Interview Tips

We hope you will find Generational Story an intuitive app that invites a relaxed, conversational interview. Once you do one or two recordings, you’ll likely settle into an easy flow that fits your style.  Below are 3 easy suggestions to help you start.

1. Select questions for the interview in advance.

While there are no ‘right’ questions, we have created a template of questions called ‘Get Started’ that work well to draw out the most relevant parts of someone’s  life in a 30-45 min interview.

Load the ‘Get Started’ template. When you open or create an album, select:
a. ‘Plan Interview’
b. ‘Add Template’
c. ‘Get Started’
d. ‘Add Template’  

When you start recording, the questions will be in a queue and automatically advance as you record and save clips.  You can stop, skip, edit, or go ‘off script’ at any time. There is also an option to copy the questions and email them to the interviewee in advance.(For more information, see FAQ.)


2. Keep the questions open-ended.

It’s a good idea to allow plenty of flexibility in the respondent's answers.  This allows the interviewees to reflect on unique experiences important to them.  In fact, it is sometimes beneficial to suggest different directions the interviewee could take the question before you start recording to stimulate the conversation.  As an example, below are the questions from the ‘Get Started’ Template with some suggestions of how an interviewee may choose to respond in parentheses.

  • Tell me your full name and where you were born.
  • What do you remember about your grandparents? (stories, songs, traditions)
  • Tell me about your parents. (personality, parenting style, sense of humor)
  • Tell me some things about your childhood. (friends, summer activities, talents, funny memory)
  • What are your most vivid memories of school? (favorite teachers, subjects, activities, best and worst subjects, how you felt about school)
  • What meaningful relationships have you had?(If they have a spouse, suggest talking about how they met or advice on a successful marriage.)
  • What words of wisdom can you share with family and friends? (relationships, values, religion, education, money management)
  • If this were your last conversation with your family, what would you tell them?

3. Assure the interviewee it will be a relaxed conversation.

  • No preparation is necessary.
  • Recorded clips can be shared or kept private at his/her discretion.
  • It will be enjoyable.

Being camera shy is a common initial reaction.  However, once the recording begins, we find that virtually everyone opens up. In fact, you’ll likely discover that your most reticent subjects don’t want to quit recording!  It is actually fun - and healthy - to reflect on the past.  

To inspire someone to start recording, it may be helpful to share some of the fascinating research done on the Benefits of Family History both for the interviewee and his/her loved ones summarized here:

Benefits of Familiy History