Step 4: the interview 

Most interviews will take place in the classroom when the whole class meets the visitor. This is particularly suited to younger children. Speakers from the various groups who have thought about the themes of the interview should begin the questioning. Interviewees may respond much more easily if they are asked about a particular object or photograph, or about a key date in their lives, for example their first day at school, a day they got into trouble at school, when they began work, their first long trip away from home. Having objects to hand and some key questions prepared will help children, particularly in the early stages of the interview.

Alternative arrangements might be used with older children. Best results are probably achieved if the visitor meets a relatively small group. The interview could then be recorded and viewed by the class later. This may pose intractable organisational problems, but visitors may relax more easily in the less formal surroundings of a library corner or small room. Some interviews might be conducted by pupils with relatives at home.

In all cases, children should learn to treat the visitor with courtesy and respect before, during and after the session. They should be encouraged to have a comfortable seat for the visitor, to listen politely, to offer to show the visitor some of the work they have completed on the period in question and to thank him/her at the end. Many interviewees will be delighted to be invited back to view a display or exhibition at the end of the project and a letter of thanks should always be written by the children.