Interview Outline- People of Faith

Introductory Information: 

  • Interviewer’s name (as interviewer)
  • Date and place of interview
  • Name of the person being interviewed
  • “This interview is part of the ALPL’s People of Faith Oral History project”

I. Background Information:

A. When and where were you born?

B. Parent’s background?

1. Father? [How would you describe his personalities/abilities?]

a. Father’s occupation(s)?

2. Mother? [How would you describe his personalities/abilities?]

a. Mother’s occupation(s)?

3. Which parent did you most take after?

C. Other siblings & immediate family?

1. Your parents’/family religious background?

a. How religious was your family?

b. Any early memories from your church/upbringing?

c. Your early views of the church/religion?

II. Growing up:

A. Family life?

B. School(s)?

C. Neighborhood / community?

D. Memories from your early years?

1. Relationship with father / mother?

2. Person who had the strongest influence on your early life?

3. Describe your home for me.

4. Most lasting childhood memory?

5. Do you have an especially memorable Christmas?

E. High School years:

1. Academic interests?

2. Extra-curricular activities/interests?

a. Church groups, Boy or Girl Scouts, 4-H, FFA, etc.

3. Did you have a job?

4. Did you have any hobbies?

5. Your career aspirations?

III. Following High School?

A. Choosing a profession? / Finding a job?

1. Why that decision? or

B. Choosing a college?

1. Your major/minor in college?

2. Influential teachers & courses?

3. Did you work during college?

4. Did you stay involved in the church during college?

C. Masters or other higher degrees?

IV. Religious Life:

A. Deciding on a religious life? The Call?

B. Was it a gradual awakening, or a specific moment?

1. Your family’s response to your decision?

C. Describe your religious views/beliefs at that time?

D. Please describe in the most straight-forward way you know your religion to me, assuming that I know nothing about it.

1. Why is that so appealing to you?

2. Were there any issues or doctrinal beliefs with which you struggled?

E. [During preparation, interviewer needs to study the basic tenets of the religion to develop appropriate follow-on questions.]

F. Your religion on the classic philosophical questions?

1. How would you explain to an atheist or agnostic the origins of the universe / of life?

2. Values

3. What happens after death?



V. Family / personal life:

A. Marriage?

1. How you met your spouse?

a. His/her religious background?

2. Did you have a church wedding?

B. Children?

1. Decisions about raising your children & religion?

Activities & interests outside your work?

VI. Early career:

Religious Life:

VII. The remainder of the interview outline will be based on the individual’s particular career & experiences.



VIII. Concluding questions: (Ask reflective comments that get the subject to look back on his/her entire career.  Some examples, below.)

A. The most fateful decision you made in life; the one that changed the trajectory of your life after that?

B. The most memorable moment in your life?

C. The accomplishment(s) for which you are most proud?

D. Your most disappointing failure or most painful experience? What you learned from that?

E. How have your religious views evolved / been strengthened over your career?

F. Closing comments.

Social Links