So What Type of Questions Should I Ask?
If you’ve already read Collecting your stories you’ll know that one of our recommendations is to use your questions for reference only.
Your questions/notes should help you guide someone through their story so that they can tell it well and you can get:
- A beginning– that outlines the problem or struggle.
- A middle– that includes the difficulties faced to overcome the problem.
- An end– that offers your audience a call to action so that they can help to solve the problem.
Without this as a guide you might walk away from your interview and find out that you don’t have any useful information to build your story. So always make sure you do your research so you can ask the right questions.
To help you on your way, we’ve listed a few of the key questions that we often use as a guide.
They’re not a firm set of questions that you should always ask – think of them more as a cheat sheet that you can scan for reference.
Closed-ended questions will give you what you might expect – one-word, dull answers.
Ask open-ended questions instead Use words like ‘how’ and ‘why’ and ‘what’. It’s hard to respond to those three words with just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Ask questions like:
- What was it like before you came to ‘Charity A?’ Where were you? What was your situation at the time?
- How did you feel when you first came to ‘Charity A?’ Why did you come there?
- How did they help you? What did they do? How did that make you feel?
- What are you hoping to do next?
- If you had the chance to sit face-to-face with the donors who support the program that helped you, what would you like to say to them?
- “Is there a question that I haven’t asked you today, but is something that you might like to add?”
These questions can help you get a feel for the type of story that you may want to capture. But of course, use them as a guide or template only.
Be prepared to put your notes aside and follow the conversation into more interesting territory if you feel that that’s where your interviewee wants to go!