Research - 8-10 hours on individual (life, career, important events), topics surrounding the individual. Be sure to identify and look through news clippings, articles, CVs, genealogy, personal or institutional websites, archival collections, etc.
Pre-Interview Meeting - set up a time to speak with the narrator. Learn more about their life through this conversation. This is the time for you to build rapport with the narrator.
Finalize - make any adjustments to the question and topic outline. Set up the Zoom meeting and share the link if the interview is remote. Test your recording equipment and make sure you have backup tools at hand. Confirm a couple days before that the interview is still on.
Come prepared - If you are doing an in-person interview, be sure to have the audio recorder, mic cover, SD card, batteries and plug, extension cord, power strip, stand/tripod, back up recorder, forms, notebook, interview outline, something to write with, some to keep track of the time, tissues, water, snacks, and camera to capture photo of the narrator (or have them provide a recent photo).
If you are doing a remote interview, be sure to have your Zoom link set, it is generating a transcript, it is set to record, back up recorder, forms, notebook, interview outline, something to write with, some to keep track of the time.
Set the space - If you are doing an in-person interview, be sure that you and the narrator are about 4-6 feet apart with the recorder in the middle, to the side. The recorder should be secured on the tripod to avoid movement sound. The mic cover should be placed on the recorder. The SD card and batteries should be inserted into the recorder. Attach the power plug to the recorder and find an outlet (use the extension cord and power strip if needed) for plug in. Turn the recorder on and prepare for recording. Have the backup recorder ready.
If you are doing a remote interview, be sure to log into Zoom and make sure the settings are correct. Check your mic and video. Check your background. Have the backup recorder ready. Ask the narrator to do the same. Explain to the narrator that you will be taking notes and periodically checking to make sure the recording equipment is working.
Record - Once you and the narrator are ready to start the interview press the record button on the recorder or on Zoom. Start with your introductory statement:
“This is an interview for the [Project]. I am [interviewer] and today I am interviewing [narrator] on [date] at [location] in [city,state].”
Proceed to give a brief purpose of the interview:
“Today we are interviewing [narrator] to learn more about the [topic]. [Narrator] if we could begin by....”
Remember to listen deeply and actively. Take notes, but remain focused on what the narrator is saying. Be preparing follow-up questions as the narrator shares with you. Remember to check recording equipment periodically.
When it feels like the interview is winding down, remember to ask the narrator if there is anything else they would like to add before you end the conversation.
A generous thanks
Saving and Protecting Files
Oral History Association - OHA Remote Interviewing Resources
Oral History Society - Advice on Interviewing During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Baylor University Institute for Oral History - Interviewing at a Distance: Remote Interviewing Webinar
UC Berkeley Oral History Center - Remote Interviewing for Zoom