Individual participant interviews
Whenever possible, facilitators should hold individual interviews with participants.
Depending on the context, interviews could be conducted in person, or via telephone or software applications such as Skype. For the South Caucasus Integrated Security Workshop in November 2009, the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation staff conducted a baseline security assessment, which included an analysis of a series of individual interviews with 12 workshop participants.
- Because of the sensitivity of the questions, always check with participants on the most secure mode of communication for the interview.
- Keep in mind that the most sensitive and efficient way to interview a participant is through an ‘in-person’ conversation (that is, face-to-face or by telephone). If this is not possible, e-mail is an alternative. However, ensure that this is a secure e-mail conversation. It may be best for facilitators and participants to open separate secure e-mail accounts for this purpose – ‘hushmail’ is just one example, but note that e-mail security levels can change over time and in different geographic locations, so it is best to check with communication security experts to identify the most secure option. Bear in mind, too, that participants may find the questions more difficult to answer by e-mail.
- Ensure confidentiality of interviews – explain to participants that the interviews are for the purpose of workshop design only and that they will not be quoted without their express permission.
- The interview process could bring up some difficult emotions among participants – be sensitive to this and be prepared to spend enough time during the interview process listening and empathising – if you expect to spend an hour on the interview, leave at least 90 minutes for it.
- In addition, workshop organisers should be prepared to arrange for follow-up support if needed (if, for example, it is clear that there is an immediate security risk to the person being interviewed, support them in obtaining immediate help – recognise whether emotions have been triggered/remain unresolved).
Questions can include
- What are your priority security concerns/challenges/obstacles for yourself and your organisation?
- What strategies do you employ to protect yourself in relation to these challenges? What strategies does your organisation use to protect offices? Personnel?
- Do you have any concerns about the safety of your family? If yes, please describe.
- In what ways do you think that your human rights work affects your health (physical and psychological)?
- What strategies do you utilise to take care of your physical and psychological health? Does your organisation support these strategies?
- Do you have any current physical or emotional concerns that might affect your comfortable participation at the workshop? If yes, is there anything that we can do to make your time with us more comfortable? (Some participants may be pregnant, breastfeeding, uncomfortable sitting for long periods of time, facing the loss of a parent, concerned about the safety of a family member, etc.)