Interviews, while seemingly self explanatory, are difficult to define as a genre. In Michele Koven’s “Interviewing: Practice, Ideology, Genre, and Intertextuality,” he defines interviewing as “a cluster of communicative practices used to produce and circulate various types of authoritative and consequential knowledge about groups and individuals.” His paper explores the what constitutes an interview and how to define it — a method, an object of analysis, a speech event, a reflection of mental contents, a reflection of authentic selves. Societal interview norms are full of variance, making interviews a more convoluted genre than simply asking and answering questions.
Paata Natsvlishvili’s paper entitled “The Genesis of Interview as a Genre” is slightly less abstract, outlining the pieces of a journalistic interview. She asserts that interviews reflect reality, are presented in the form of questions and answers, in which the interviewee is a source of information while the interviewer is the disseminator of this information. She includes that the “interview-as-genre must pertain to something topical and interesting for general audience… it implies readership, listenership or viewership.”
Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber explains “The Practice of Feminist In-Depth Interviewing” in a piece that includes what she defines as an “unstructured interview” with a fitness trainer. The interview opens with a description of the interviewee and the interviewer’s relationship to her, then takes on a traditional question-answer format. She then explains that the best method of interviewing comes a minimum of control over the interview wherein the interviewer allows the interviewee to explore topics they want to talk about but the interviewer keeps the overall topic in mind. Unstructured interviewing is based in open-ended questions, allowing the interviewee more freedom in their responses. She also includes different methods of “probing” to encourage the interviewee to reveal more.
I think unstructured interviewing will be the perfect final experiment for my project. After exploring researching the “high maintenance” stereotype and unpacking my own experiences, I think collecting the stories of other women (and potentially men) will give me more insight into this issue. Unstructured interviewing seems to be the best course of action because I want to give my interviewees as much freedom as possible to tell their stories and focus on what they deem important. Most of my experience with interviewing is from a strictly journalistic standpoint, so I’m excited to take a more personalized approach to this genre.