During the summer of 2014 I had the opportunity to work with five amazing young women from Chatham University and with two of Chatham’s’ faculty members. Our research focused on women entrepreneurship in Taiwan. Our team was able to conduct this research due to a grant, which we have received thanks to the ASIANetwork Freeman Foundation Student-Faculty Fellows Program. The study travel grant provided the opportunity for data collection through personal interviews with women entrepreneurs in a variety of places around Taiwan.
The five interviews I conduced with Sook Yee Leung helped me improve my interviewing skills. I had little experience with academic interviewing. I understood the idea of professional interviewing for jobs, yet very little for interviewing a person for research and data analysis. With the help of the whole team especially my partner in the interviews, Sook Yee, and with consistent practice by running through our questions repeatedly, we developed a successful interview technique. Interviewing as a team is much harder than interviewing by yourself. While the aid of other person is useful when there are a large number of questions, coordinating with another person in a professional interview can be difficult. However, through trial and error a system of communication between two interviewers can be found. By establishing a system of communication through body language, Sook Yee and I were able to communicate smoothly. For example, when Sook Yee had a follow-up question, she would ask her question; and then when she had no more questions, she would look at me and smile or nod. Then, I knew she had finished, and it was my turn to ask the next question on our list or ask my own follow-up questions.
Since the interviews for the most part had to be translated by a third party, we had to develop an interview protocol. The appropriate interviewing etiquette ignores the translator and the interviewer talks directly to the interviewee. In order to be professional and even though I had no idea what the interviewee was saying and felt a little awkward, I listened to the woman business owner answer the questions. The interviews had to be transcribed for the five women we interviewed: I finished the transcriptions of two interviews and Sook Yee completed the remaining three. The length of the transcriptions was a little taxing; the hardest part was creating clear statements of the interviewee. Some of our interviews were in English and in the conversation we could understand our interviewee. When I began typing out the conversation, I found myself trying to compensate for the verbal pausing such as umms… uhhs… the stammering and grammar. In the end it was better to use ellipsis for the pausing, and leave the grammar as is because that is what the interviewee had said.