Interview Questions and Guidelines
To the interviewer: This is a chance to learn as much as you can about your family and to find out interesting things about their lives. We hope that you can interview your parents at least, but also your uncles, aunts, and even grandparents if they are still alive. Use this outline as a guide and attentively try to find out their birth dates and birthplaces the best you can, which will help you with family history work. The other questions are to guide you generally on things to talk about, but it is OK if the conversation goes in another direction. If you think of questions to ask that are not on the list, go ahead and ask them. Anything your family says can be interesting to you and others. You can also interview two family members at once if they are both available, but usually not more than two. Just be sure to ask each one the background question (2-8) to both family members in this case.
Before you interview a person, write down their information on the notecard.
Use your phone or mp3 recorder to record the whole interview and email it to your peer leader or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Take photos of the people and place of the interview too and record the names of those in the photos. Once you have sent to audio and the photos to the peer leader or project manager, you are done!
Say to the participant: “Thank you for participating in the project. It will bless you and your family and help others to understand Cambodia! You and your family will receive a copy of the interview after it is transcribed. If you allow BYU to publish your interview on cambodia.byu.edu, you will be able to access the interview at any time in the language of the interview and also in English.”
After you start the recorder, before you ask any other question, state the names of the interviewer and interviewee, the place, and the date of the interview (be as specific as you can).
- Introduction. Start the interview with something like the following:
“Brigham Young University (USA) is doing a project where it interviews family members about their life experiences. Can I ask some questions about your life now and about when you were growing up? We would like to record what you say to help remember the details. The university will provide you access to your interview through the project website. (https://cambodianoralhistoryproject.byu.edu) Do we have your permission to conduct the interview and post it online?”
- What is your full legal name? For example, the name on your government ID?
- How do you spell your full name in Khmer? How is it Romanized?
- What other names are you called by? Do you have any nicknames? Did you have childhood names?
- Did you learn to speak a language besides Khmer?
- How well do you read and write in Khmer?
- Where were you born? In Cambodia?
- Which province? What village, commune, and district?
- How old are you this year?
- What year were you born? Which zodiac year?
- Siblings’ Information
- How many brothers and sisters do you have? What number are you in the family?
- What are your siblings’ names?
- How do you spell their full names in Khmer? How is it Romanized?
- How old are they now?
- Do you know where they were born?
- Can you tell me a little bit about them?
- Parents’ Information
- What are your parents’ full names? How do you spell their full names in Khmer? How is it Romanized?
- Do you know the birthdates of your mother and father? Which zodiac years? Do you know where your parents were born?
- How old are they now? (or if they have passed away, What year did they pass away? How old would they have been if they were still alive today?)
- What memories do you have with your mother? With your father?
- What type of person was your father? Your mother?
- Grandparents’ Information
- Do you remember the names of your grandparents on your mother’s side? On your father’s side?
- How do you spell their full names in Khmer? How is it Romanized?
- What do you remember about your grandparents? Where were they born? When?
- Where did they live?
- What else do you know about your family?
- Have they been in Cambodia for a long time? What provinces have they lived in?
- Have they ever lived outside of Cambodia? If so, where?
- Do you know the names of any other ancestors? Are there any stories you’d like to share about your ancestors?
- What was life like for you growing up?
- How much schooling did you have? Elementary school, middle or high school? Any other schooling?
- Where was the school? Do you remember the school’s name?
- Did you work on the farm? Or in a family business?
- What other kinds of work have you done throughout your life?
- How is life different today than it was when you were young?
- Did you have a favorite food? What recipes did you learn how to cook? Who taught you how to cook?
- Do you have any games that you liked to play when you were growing up?
- Are there any songs that you learned growing up? What music do you like to listen to? Does anyone in your family know how to play a musical instrument?
- What was your house like growing up? Did you build it or help build it? What type of materials did they use to build their home?
- What types of skills have been passed along in your family, for example basket-weaving, making palm sugar, building homes, etc?
- What is the full name, age, and birthdate of your spouse?
- When were you married? What day, month, and year?
- Where were you married?
- Was it arranged by parents? Was there a dowry?
- Can you tell me about the first time you met?
- How many children do you have?
- What are their names and genders, starting from oldest to youngest?
- When were they each born? Where were they each born?
- How old are each of them now?
- What memories do you have with your children?
- How many grandchildren do you have?
- Tell me about some of the challenges in your life. How did you get through those times?
- Best Experiences
- What are some of the best memories in your life? Marriage and children?
- When you were young what did you hope to do when you grew up?
- Anything else?
- Do you have any advice that you would like to share with your children or future generations?
Thank them for doing an interview with you. Ask to take some photos of them, their family members, family records, or any family pictures in their home. Tell the participant:
“The university will provide you access to your interview, which you will be able to listen to on our website at any time: https://cambodianoralhistoryproject.byu.edu. You can also direct questions to the project managers, Debra Williams and Thomas Barrett at (email@example.com), who are Khmer-speaking Americans. For our reference, can we have your mailing address and telephone number? Do you have an email?”
- Submission of the Interview
In an email to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Upload the audio recording of the interview as an mp3 file or the video file as a .mov file (or similar).
- Upload the pictures of the interviewee, or any images taken of family photos.
- Include the following in the text body of the email:
- Interviewer Name (Khmer and Romanized)
- Interviewee Name (Khmer and Romanized)
- City and Province the interview was recorded
- The date of the interview
- The length of the interview in this form 00:00:00 (HR:MIN:SEC)