Thursday, February 7, 2013

Best Interview Questions!

by Ann
I used to take a magazine called Creating Keepsakes.  I saved an article called "Family History Made Easy" from November 2008 that had the most excellent questions to ask someone you are interviewing.  They are arranged in the following categories:
1.  Questions for Grandparents
2.  Questions for Parents
3.  Questions for Aunts/Uncles
4.  Questions for Siblings
5.  Questions for Nieces/Nephews

I like the questions because they are designed to make a person think and reminisce on his/her life, not just repeat a fact.  For example one of the questions for parents is, "When you were dating and first married, what kind of long-term goals did you have as a couple, and which of those goals gave you met?"

There are quite a few questions, and they will follow. Here is a link to the Creating Keepsakes website where you can also find some other questions.  They are presented in .pdf format so you can print them off.  They have lines beneath each question to write answers if you want to.  I would suggest that you give these to a person before the interview so they can consider their answers. Then video them! Bring your family history alive!  The link is

Here are the questions from the article:

Thoughtful Interview Questions:
For Grandparents
·         Tell me about a challenge you had in your life and how you made it through.
·         When did your family get a TV set?
·         What were some of your favorite shows?
·         What were some of the most fun or wild things that you and your friends did?  Did you have a curfew?
·         Looking back, what are the things people tend to make a big deal about but aren’t really that important after all?
·         What is your favorite memory of Mom or Dad when she or he was little?
·         Tell me about when you fell in love with Grandma or Grandpa.
·         Which appliance or electronic device were you most excited about getting?
·         If you could live your life over, what would you do differently?
·         What was your greatest accomplishment before age 18?
·         What did you feel when you saw your first child for the first time?
·         What’s the biggest difference between your era growing up and my generation that you still don’t understand?

For Parents
·         As you look back, do you have any favorite years?  Is there a time in your life that youo’d like to live over again?
·         Are there any photos of y ou as a child?  As a teenager? Where are they stored?
·         Are there any family heirlooms that have been passed from one generation to another?
·         What traditions (holidays, religious ceremonies, etc.) did you have in your home while growing up?
·         What historical events stick out in your mind that you’ve lived through?
·         What do you love most about your life right now?
·         When you were dating and first marred, what kind of long-term goals did you have as a couple, and which of those goals have been met?
·         During the child-rearing years, what were some of the “simplest pleasures” that helped both of you deal best with such a busy life?
·         As a child, what did you do with your spare time?  What were your favorite pastimes?
·         In your teenage years, do you remember some of the trends (such as clothing) that you followed?
·         After all these years of marriage, what are some of your favorite bits of advice for a happy marriage?
·         What were y our favorite family vacations as a child?
·         What do you remember about the day I was born?
·         What do you remember about your wedding day?
·         What are your favorite photos from your childhood?
·         What characteristics about me remind you of you when you were younger?  How are we similar?

For Aunts/Uncles
·         What naughty thing did my mother or father do as a child?
·         Do you see any similarities between me as a child and my parent as a child?
·         What makes you the best aunt or uncle ever?
·         What were my parents like when they were young and dating?
·         Did you have any special family traditions while you were growing up?
·         What was it like growing up as the youngest/middle/oldest child in your family?
·         What was life like for a young person in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s?
·         What was your impression of my father or mother as a child?
·         What were your fondest memories of your parents?
·         What did you believe you would do as an adult?

For Siblings
·         What do you know now that you+ wish you would have known years ago?
·         What is the greatest lesson you learned from Mom and Dad?
·         In what ways are you the same as Mom or Dad?
·         What do you miss from our childhood days? 
·         What is one of your test memories growing up?
·         What did you love most about our hometown?
·         What are three predictions you have for the next year?  (These can be personal, family, political . . . anything.)
·         Which traditions from your youth are you trying to carry on for your own family?
·         Who has had a big impact on the way that you live your life and why?
·         What makes you, you?

For Nieces/Nephews
·         What are your favorite stories about your grandparents?
·         What were your favorite treats that your grandparents gave (or sneaked to) you?
·         What kinds of games or other pastimes do you enjoy with your cousins?
·         Do you like your “position” in the family order?  What are the benefits and drawbacks?
·         What is your favorite thing to do after school?
·         Who is your best friend and why do you like him or her?
·         What is your favorite thing about your mom and dad?
·         What was your favorite outfit to wear when you were young?
·         What qualities do you like most about your parents?
·         Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
·         What was the best or worst job you ever had?


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