Part 2 of a 6-part series on interviewing tips to capture stories from other people.
2. Record the conversation
a. Why record? Take some notes during an interview, but remember it is easy to get caught up in the conversation. You might be thinking about your next question instead of giving the conversation your undivided attention. For that reason alone, I recommend using a simple recording device so you can listen to it again at your leisure.
b. Listen first! - Before you start the interview, listen carefully for any noises in the room. Remove or move away from anything that may be distracting or picked up on the recorder. That could be noise from the street, other people who are close by, an electric heater that hums, telephones, chiming clocks or a dozen other things. During one interview I had, we were interrupted by a phone call. Even though someone else took the call in another room, my recording picked up her conversation more clearly than my own. And she was some 10 feet away from us!
c. Interruptions – If there is an interruption, such as a knock on the door, an airplane flying overhead or a baby crying, stop the interview for a few moments. Take care of the disturbance and then continue. If some time has passed, you might want to repeat the last question or remind the interviewee where they were.
d. Recording devices – There are many recording devices available. Select one that you feel comfortable using. It could be a cassette tape recorder, a digital recorder, an MP3, a camcorder, etc. Whichever you choose, make sure you have enough extra batteries and storage for the entire interview. Murphy’s Law says that “Anything that can go wrong will!” And the odds are that the most fascinating part of any interview will occur when you can’t record it.