Thursday, I had scheduled 3 faculty interviews, including two back-to-back. I do not recommend this approach, not the least of which reason is that the first of the back-to-back ran longer than most, and I barely had time to write analytical notes to collect my thoughts before I had to make sure everything was ready for the next subject. I also didn’t take time to go to stretch my legs and body after intensely concentrating on what to ask next. If I were really pressed, I probably could have begged a moment for the bathroom once the subject arrived and was reading over the consent form, but all in all, it probably took more out of me than was necessary or maybe even wise.
That said, I did make it through, probably because I’d spent so much time preparing before the first one so I didn’t goof up. I have a checklist of things to do before, during and after the interview, and all of my questions and even example probe questions for follow-up printed out as well. I have instructions for a task that I give them explained on a third sheet, and finally, background questions on a final paper. Most of these things I didn’t realize how much I needed until after or during my pilot interviews, another endorsement for trying out your interview strategy beforehand.
Some of my recommendatiions: make sure the blinds in the room are working. I discovered one really old set that was stuck halfway open, so I called maintenance. They haven’t been fixed yet, but at least they closed them so I don’t get glare on my screen for the images I’m showing. Close the window and door, and post a sign that you’re doing an experiment and what time you’ll be done. Of course, this doesn’t eliminate all the noise when there’s a large biology class across the hall with their doors open, but it helps a lot. Turn off your cell phone, and remind subjects to do the same. Even though it was on my list, I still forgot once yesterday and got distracted. Check the temperature of the room. Even if you don’t get sun glare, or need to worry about it, the blinds can help keep the room cool when you get intense afternoon sun. Of course, then you have to balance this with the room getting stuffy from being so closed up, again a reason that it would be nice to have some time between interviews to air things out if necessary.