When we are interviewing, we are mostly asking questions. We are also providing verbal and non-verbal feedback and sporadically providing explanations or comments. But the core of a research interview is asking questions.
However, coming up with good interview questions is deceptively hard. Novice researchers (and even more seasoned ones) sometimes find that a well-intentioned question derails the conversation or realize that the interview did not result in useful data.
Questions are also powerful intervention tools. By asking the right questions, we allow people to consider things in ways they have not thought about. Consider a simple question such as “how are you today?” and its most likely answer: “fine, thanks.” Nobody has learned anything here. However, if the question instead is “What was the most exciting thing that happened to you today?” we are inviting people to consider and think about a positive experience.
Similarly, if you ask people, “what are you doing today?” you may get an answer like “the usual, work, school.” If, however, you ask, “what are you most looking forward to doing today?” you may get a more meaningful answer “well, I started this blog about transformative interviews, and I am looking forward to writing a post about the importance of asking good questions.”
However, coming up with these questions on the spot is not always easy. To help me become better at asking questions, I have created a 100-transformative-questions challenge for myself. My 100-question challenge is to collect a list of 100 tested questions from the helping professions (Coaching, Counselling, Psychology) to help researchers ask more powerful questions. The up to date list of questions is here.
In the meantime, here a question for you: What most excites you about transformative interviews?