3 Top Tips for Interviewing Family Members

Have you tried to interview your loved ones to record family stories, but never really got the story you wanted?

Here are my 3 top tips on how to plan the interview and get the best memories and stories from your loved one.

TIP 1: Prepare some questions ahead of time.

Most people like to be prepared with what questions they will be answering in the interview.  Send them a list of sample questions for them to consider (see link below for my list of top 30 interview questions).  You won’t use all of these questions, but they will help to get started with questions to ask.  The list includes questions about their early years through to mid life & beyond.

Remind your loved one that you don’t want them to read out written answers to these when you film the interview – so just get them to jot down a few bullet points.  These will be useful prompts to use during the interview, but you want their answers to be unrehearsed and authentic on the video.

There are also deeper questions to ask, that you may want to hold back and only ask on the day.  For example you may ask “Tell me about a time when you felt the most joy.”  This often results in more emotive response, so don’t forget to include deeper questions like this.  They can be the golden nuggets of the interview.

TIP 2: LISTEN – first and foremost.

Be an active listener.  You will be tempted to interrupt sometimes, but try to let them talk while you listen.

Make eye contact during the interview, and smile as they share their precious memories.  Also embrace the silent moments – let them think quietly about their responses.

If they go off track, don’t worry too much as you often get some unexpected and wonderful stories from the off-track conversations.

Remember to turn off any distractions while filming – phones, TV, washing machines and dishwashers.

TIP 3: Use photographs as prompts.

It can be useful to bring in some old photo albums and look through these together during the interview.  Old photos can trigger memories and stories from the past.

Filming over their shoulder as you go through the albums together also makes useful extra footage to include when you edit the final video.

If a picture can share a thousand words, then imagine what your video will do!

I hope you found these life story interview tips useful – check back here again soon for more tips about how to save the stories of your loved ones on video.

Get your story (and the stories of loved ones) in the can, while you can.

????Resources & Links

Free list of 30 life story interview questions:


My YouTube channel – Saving Family Memories (new videos are uploaded each fortnight):


Books I recommend:

Your Story How to write it so Others Will Want to Read it – by Joanne Felder:


The Stories We Tell – Every Piece of your Story Matters – by Joanna Gaines


(These book links are affiliate links and for delivery only in NZ & Australia –  I receive a small commission from Booktopia at no additional cost to you).

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