5 min read

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    Working on the interview guidelines

    By in Interviews
    5 min read

    So how do I imagine the interviews will look like? Following my interview guidelines, I want them to be an informal conversation. When I was interviewing people for my work through Skype, telephone or in person, it worked best. People also feel more comfortable to answer your questions and share more easily their experiences with you.

    Normally, I’ve sent out some basic questions in advance so that everyone can prepare a bit. Nevertheless, every interview has its own dynamics. Some people are more talkative than others. Sometimes you need to squeeze your interview in their agenda, stuffed with meetings. Sometimes you have technical problems that hinder a fluid conversation.

    According to my experience talking to CEOs, managers, members of NGOs or public authorities, it is essential to stay flexible and positive. Sometimes you don’t get answers to all your questions and sometimes the interviewee talks with you about an aspect you didn’t think about. Conversations are rich for both sides. Sometimes people come up with new (creative) ideas when they consider their business or activity (or in this case as well their country) from another point of view.

    Today, I was writing down the different questions that I had in my head for quite a while. I ordered them into five thematic blocs to give the interview more structure. Sharing these basic questions in advance will also help the people sharing their story to structure their thoughts.

    Asking interesting questions – the interview guidelines

    Below are the questions that I consider the basic ones. Of course, they will vary according to the person interviewed and other questions may be added according to the topic. The four question blocks of my interview guidelines are as following:

    Home - The Mediterranean interview guidelines

    The Mediterranean

    • “For me, the Mediterranean is/stands for…”
    • “My message for the people of the Mediterranean (and its future) is …”

    Biographical and topic related questions

    • Name, age, profession
    • What is your passion?
    • How did it come that you do what you do today? Please tell me more about your personal story.
    • What motivated you?
    • Which difficulties did you meet along the way and how did you solve them?
    • What surprised you?
    • What does a typical work day look like for you?
    • Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 or 15 years?
    • What is your greatest hope or fear?
    • What is your philosophy of life and why?
    • Do you have any tips for people that want to work in the same area or do something similar?
    • How can people interested in knowing more about you/your project can contact you?
      • Website
      • Social media

    Country questions

    • What is it like to live in (country)?
    • What do you think are your country’s greatest challenges and why?
    • Where do you see opportunities for the future?
    • For foreign visitors, what would you like people to see or discover?
    • For foreign visitors, are there any festivals, you recommend to go?

    Culture questions

    • Name, age, activity
    • Which artist/film/book … would you others like to discover?
    • “(One of) my favorite songs/singers/groups of my country is… I like it because…”
    • “(One of) my favorite books/authors of my country is… I like it because…”
    • “(One of) my favorite films/filmmaker of my country is… I like it because…”
    • “(One of) my favorite dancers of my country is… I like it because…”
    • “(One of) my favorite actors of my country is… I like it because…”


    • Is it ok to give your full name in the articles/videos/on social media?
    • Is it ok for you to be filmed and photographed?
    • Is it ok for you that photos/videos will be shared on the project website and on related social media channels?

    If you have some other ideas for questions or aspects to be covered, let me know. You can share your suggestions in the comment section below as well as in the guestbook.

    Editing the interview

    I plan in all cases to record the voice with my smartphone. I will then be able to transcribe the interviews as a basis for written articles. Those who feel comfortable being filmed will be filmed with the camera of my smartphone (Samsung S7) or GoPro (3 Black). Knowing that nowadays our attention span is reduced for various reasons, I will then also do short videos of a 3-5 min length. Since I speak French and Spanish, I will, of course, do the interviews in the language of the people I meet. This requires also subtitling… (I still have to learn myself video editing and how to then add the subtitles, but everything can be learned. All that is needed is time, patience, and maybe some help!

    An exemption will maybe be the answers to the culture questions. I would like them to do in English if the person feels comfortable. This would definitely help me because I won’t be obliged to transcribe nor to subtitle. I imagine for every question a small video that can be shared through the different social media channels.

    Having different formats of the interview will give a better and more interesting dynamic to the project. Videos help you to get a better connection with the person interviewed. In contrast to written articles, you can, first of all, see how a person looks, but also how they move, the tone of their voices, their smiles, and laughter.

    interview guidelines


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