Conducting Interviews in the Community
- The Caribbean, Dominican Republic
- Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
- Service Learning
Students will conduct individual interviews to find out in depth how people in their own communities provide services to others.
- Students will broaden their perspectives on the meaning of the common good by going out into their communities and conducting interviews with community volunteers.
- Students will develop and practice interviewing skills. Students will develop and practice active listening skills.
- Tell students that soon they will have the opportunity to go out into the community and interview family, friends, neighbors, and others who work for the common good. These interviews will give them ideas about ways in which they might eventually work for the common good in their school or community.
Together with students, make a list of community volunteers, school service groups, and others in the community who work for the common good. These are the people students might interview. Provide examples of community volunteers, and ask students to add to the list:
- Scout leaders
- Soccer, basketball, baseball coaches (who are unpaid volunteers)
- Religious teachers or volunteer groups
- Hospital volunteers
- Volunteers in homeless shelters
- Library volunteers
- Senior citizen volunteers
- Volunteer firemen
- Friends, neighbors, or family members who volunteer their time
- Help students select two people whom they will interview.
Help students generate a list of questions they want to ask during their interviews. Provide and elicit examples of questions:
- Why do you serve or volunteer?
- What are examples of ways that you serve?
- How does your volunteering support the common good in our community?
- What advice or words of wisdom do you have about the value of serving?
- Provide each student with two copies of Worksheet #5: Community Volunteer Interview Guide (link above).
- Ask students how they feel about interviewing someone. Have they ever conducted an interview before? Have they ever seen someone conduct an interview? What are the skills people need to conduct a good interview? Conduct a class discussion focused on these questions.
- Explain to students that they will now have the opportunity to practice interviewing skills. Provide students with a list of skills.
- Once you have reviewed these points with students, provide an opportunity for them to practice their interviewing skills.
- Before students practice, model the way an interview might be conducted. Ask two volunteers to come up to the front of the class. Have them play the role of interviewees from a community service organization while you interview them using effective interviewing skills. Ask the two students to pretend they are volunteers in a homeless shelter. Begin by using the questions on the Interview Guide.
- Ask the rest of the class to take notes on what you do and say to make the speakers feel comfortable and at ease (and anything you do or say that they think has caused discomfort).
- Start by introducing yourself, smiling, and thanking the volunteers for coming. Mention that you know they are busy and that you don't want to take too much of their time. After the first question, summarize what they said to make sure you understood it correctly. Summarize in a way that indicates you have missed several key points. Then ask: "Did I miss anything important?" Allow the interviewees to add the missing information. Thank them and go on to the next question.
When the interview is over ask the interviewees:
- What did I do to make you feel comfortable?
- Is there anything I did to make you feel uncomfortable?
- What have you learned about interviewing from this experience?
- Then ask the rest of the class to provide their observations on the above questions.
- Ask students to divide into groups of three. Explain that they will now have a chance to practice their interviewing skills. Have one person be the interviewer, one person be the interviewee, and one person be an observer. Have students conduct their interviews and ask the observers to take notes on all the positive things the interviewer did to make the interview go well.
- Provide five minutes for each interview, after which the observer will share his or her notes and the interviewee will comment on what the interviewer did to make him or her feel comfortable. Allow time for the interviewer to ask if there was anything he or she could have done better. Try to ensure that there has been positive feedback first.
- Then have each person in the groups of three assume a new role and begin the process again until all three students have had the chance to be the interviewer.
- At the end of this activity, ask students what they've learned about good interviewing. Record their comments on the chalkboard.
- Ask students to conduct their own interviews in the community and bring their completed interview guides back to class.
Frameworks & Standards
- How do people in our community work for the common good?
- Why does service matter?