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Ten Tips for Interviewers*

1. Ask one question at a time.

2. State your questions as directly as possible.

3. Ask open-ended questions-questions that begin with "why, how, where, what kind of," etc. Avoid "yes or no" questions.

4. Start with non-controversial questions. One good place to begin, for instance, is with the interviewee's childhood memories.

5. Don't let periods of silence fluster you.

6. Avoid interrupting the interviewee.

7. If the interviewee strays away from the topic in which you are interested, don't panic. Sometimes the best parts of the interview come about this way. If you feel the digression has drifted too far afield, gently steer the interviewee back to the topic with your next question.

8. Be respectful of the interviewee. Use body language to show you are interested in what he or she has to say. Remember, the interviewee is giving you the gift of his or her memories and experiences.

9. After the interview, thank the interviewee for sharing his or her experiences. Also send a written thank-you note.

10. Don't use the interview to show off your knowledge, charm, or other attributes. Remember, "good interviewers never shine-only their interviews do."

* Created by the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. For more information on how to do oral history, check out the one-minute guide to oral history published by the University of California, Berkeley.