Field Study Guidelines for Interviewing Employees and Employers

Activity Description:

Author: Anna Haley-Lock


This assignment serves to frame the issues of the course in the following respects:

  • Exposing you to both employer and employee perspectives in the ways that jobs are designed, rewarded, and otherwise supported-including challenges and opportunities that employers face in these efforts, and the ways that these efforts translate for the lives of workers.
  • Revealing variation in the ways that jobs are designed, rewarded and supported•within the same major metropolitan area (local labor market), as well as within the same industry, and for potentially the same job title. In addition, by hearing the findings from groups assigned to other industries, you will be able to appreciate cross-industry similarities as well as differences in employment conditions and issues facing employers.
  • Working as a diverse, integrated, professional student group.

Arranging Your Interviews:

  • In class, groups will be created and assigned a specific industry (restaurant, retail, grocery). Each member will be assigned to interview either a front-line employee or an employer.
  • Interviewees should be adults (age 18+).
  • Interviewees may be “former,” rather than “current,” employees/employers if approved by an instructor, but you should clearly situate your interview with them in a specific former job and organization.
  • Before contacting your potential interviewees to recruit them, you must supply their names and organizational information to the instructor, who will be keeping a master list of interviews to minimize repeat contacting of people.
  • When you contact your interviewees to recruit and schedule them, you should review the purpose and nature of the interview with them, per the attached “informed consent”-style guidelines. This serves to establish the safest, most equally-footed context in which the two of you discuss their experiences.

Conducting Your Interviews:

  • You are being provided with a structured interview protocol to use as a basic outline for your interviews, but you are free to supplement it with additional questions.
  • Review the attached “informed consent-style” guidelines before you begin the interview.
  • Each interview should take roughly 1 hour (sometimes less, but avoid having it run on much longer as a consideration to your interviewee).

Writing Up Your Interviews Individually, and your Group Findings:

The focus of your writing up of these narratives will be primarily descriptive: to give a sense of the stories shared with you by your interviewees about their experiences with their jobs and their organizations. The format is generally open, but you should consider the following points:

  • Individual Interview: You need to convey the core of the interview completely BUT without “kitchen-sinking.” Don’t simply dump the contents of your discussion onto paper; rather, translate it into a more readable, narrative form. This form might involve a chronology of events, high and low points of the person’s job experience, or other – each interviews may suggest its own written structure.
  • Group Findings: This summary presents themes that emerged across the interviews. You might organize by Employers and Employees. Or you might organize by certain emergent themes, in some cases combining employer and employee perspectives that overlapped. You might organize by points of variation and similarity. Up to your group. Ask yourselves in this task, Across the discussions with people, what points were repeated? What points never came up? What are your initial thoughts about what the themes we have identified-as well as those not found-mean?

Activity Source:

University of Washington ’07 created by Prof. Anna Haley-Lock

Activity Links to Materials: