Posted on Jul 13, 2018 in Editorial.
On the face of it, interviewing might seem like an easy job. Surely, anyone can ask questions and listen to the reply?
That is certainly true to an extent, but at LifeBook we look beyond that.
We choose our interviewers carefully, not only carrying out background checks – an important consideration for anyone allowing a person into their home – but also selecting individuals who will gel with the author in question. For example, if an author has a certain interest, we will try to find an interviewer who shares that interest, or if the author has a particular background, we will aim to match them with an interviewer who has some knowledge of it. This might be a type of career, such as one in the military, or life in another country, for instance.
However, the overriding principle is to hire an interviewer to whom the author will feel comfortable revealing their innermost thoughts and personal details. In this respect, we expect our interviewers to have several qualities.
First and foremost, they must have empathy with the author, while remaining free of judgement no matter what the author might tell them. This is particularly important when authors relate stories that are difficult for them to vocalise or give rise to strong emotions.
Equally, however, the interviewer must be able to join in the laughter and excitement when happy, humorous or joyful events are recorded; they must take an active interest in the author’s words.
Of course, it goes without saying that interviewers must be able to ask questions, but these need to be the right questions and so a good interviewer will also be someone who listens and thinks ahead. They will spot when a story requires more detail, names need to be spelt, chronology explained or when facts are inconsistent. In this way, an interviewer helps the author to create their LifeBook by prompting memories, while at the same time keeping the author on topic and focused on the task in hand.
When an author signs up for a LifeBook, every effort is made to match them with a suitable interviewer and before they are hired for any project, we will get to know that interviewer fully through Skype and/or telephone calls ‒ they are, after all, the ‘face of LifeBook’ and we expect them to uphold the high standards of professionalism and integrity that we hold dear.
We also provide thorough training for every interviewer so that they understand their role and how to approach it, and, just as importantly, are comfortable using the equipment that we provide for them.
We have found our approach to the selection of interviewers and their training to be one that pays dividends; in fact, in many cases new friendships between author and interviewer are forged – an added bonus arising from the successfully tried-and-tested LifeBook process.
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