Griot Great Questions

We’ve generated this list of questions to help you prepare for your interview. You may also want to visit our What to Expect and Great Questions pages. 

Great Questions about Segregation and Civil Rights

Do you have any stories about how segregation was for your family or you?
How, if at all, has the ending of segregation changed your life?
Do you have any stories that can help me understand any personal reaction you had to an incident of prejudice?
Can you talk about how your family or you participated in the Civil Rights movement?
How, if at all, has the Civil Rights Movement affected you personally? 
Do you have any stories about how the Black Power and/or Black Arts movement affected your thinking about race?
Can you talk about any barriers your parents or you have faced in education, housing, health, work, entertainment, shopping or otherwise? 
If your family has not always been able to vote, what were the circumstances that kept them from voting?
Do you have any stories that illustrate any barriers you, as an African American, currently face?  
Do you have any stories about how things have changed for the better? Or any stories that show how things have not changed?

Great Questions for Parents and Other Elders: School, Work, and Organizations

Can you tell me what your parents/grandparents/other elders said about going to school?
Tell me about the kind of work your parents/grandparents do/have done?  
Are there any organizations or institutions that your family belonged to that you would like to talk about?
Can you talk about the range of choices your parents and/or other elders had in the past? 
Have your parents and/or other elders told any stories about the range of choices available today? 

Great Questions about Learning about Race

Can you remember when you first learned that you are African American?  What was that like for you?
Can you share any personal experiences you have had related to African American roots and heritage?

Great Questions about Where You Have Lived

Do you know where your family came from?  If yes, what do you know about that history?
Do you have any stories about your family’s experience leaving the place you were born?
Do you have any stories about your family’s or your experience about moving to the area in which you now live?
Do you have any stories about the city you live in?

Great Questions about Slavery

Can you talk about any family experiences under slavery? Have any stories about slavery been passed down to you?

Great Questions about Firsts: Can you finish any of these sentences?

I was the first African American to…  If yes, tell me more about it.
I was the first person in my family who…  If yes, tell me more about it.

Great Questions about Military Service

Did you fight in World War II or other conflict? Can you tell me a story that helps me understand how you felt about fighting for your country?
How did you feel wearing the uniform?  Do you remember any times in which other people had a strong reaction to your wearing of the uniform?  If yes, can you tell me about it?
What, if any, special challenges did you have as an African American in the military?

Great questions for anyone

What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
Who was the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did they teach you?
Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
What is your earliest memory?
Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to me?
What are you proudest of in your life?
When in life have you felt most alone?
How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
How would you like to be remembered?
Do you have any regrets?
What does your future hold?
Is there anything that you’ve never told me but want to tell me now?
Is there something about me that you’ve always wanted to know but have never asked?

Great questions for friends

What is your first memory of me?
Was there a time when you didn’t like me?
What makes us such good friends?
How would you describe me? How would you describe yourself?
Where will we be in 10 years? 20 years?
Do you think we’ll ever lose touch with each other?
Is there anything that you’ve always wanted to tell me but haven’t?

Great questions for grandparents

Where did you grow up?
What was your childhood like?
Who were your favorite relatives?
Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?
How did you and grandma/grandpa meet?
What was my mom/dad like growing up?
Do you remember any songs that you used to sing to her/him? Can you sing them now?
Was she/he well-behaved?
What is the worst thing she/he ever did?
What were your parents like?
What were your grandparents like?
How would you like to be remembered?
Are you proud of me?

Raising Children

When did you first find out that you’d be a parent? How did you feel?
Can you describe the moment when you saw your child for the first time?
How has being a parent changed you?
What are your dreams for your children?
Do you remember when your last child left home for good?
Do you have any favorite stories about your kids?

Great Questions for Parents

Do remember what was going through your head when you first saw me?
How did you choose my name?
What was I like as a baby? As a young child?
Do you remember any of the songs you used to sing to me? Can you sing them now?
What were my siblings like?
What were the hardest moments you had when I was growing up?
If you could do everything again, would you raise me differently?
What advice would you give me about raising my own kids?
What are your dreams for me?
How did you meet mom/dad?
Are you proud of me?

Growing up

When and where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
What was it like?
Who were you parents?
What were your parents like?
How was your relationship with your parents?
Did you get into trouble? What was the worst thing you did?
Do you have any siblings? What were they like growing up?
What did you look like?
How would you describe yourself as a child? Were you happy?
What is your best memory of childhood? Worst?
Did you have a nickname? How’d you get it?
Who were your best friends? What were they like?
How would you describe a perfect day when you were young?
What did you think your life would be like when you were older?
Do you have any favorite stories from your childhood?

School

Did you enjoy school?
What kind of student were you?
What would you do for fun?
How would your classmates remember you?
Are you still friends with anyone from that time in your life?
What are your best memories of grade school/high school/college/graduate school? Worst memories?
Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence of your life? Tell me about them.
Do you have any favorite stories from school?

Love and relationships

Do you have a love of your life?
When did you first fall in love?
Can you tell me about your first kiss?
What was your first serious relationship?
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Do you ever think about previous lovers?
What lessons have you learned from your relationships?

Marriage

How did you meet your husband/wife?
How did you know he/she was “the one”?
How did you propose?
What were the best times? The most difficult times?
Did you ever think of getting divorced?
Did you ever get divorced? Can you tell me about it?
What advice do you have for young couples?
Do you have any favorite stories from your marriage or about your husband/wife?

Working

What do you do for a living?
Tell me about how you got into your line of work.
Do you like your job?
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What lessons has your work life taught you?
If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?
Do you plan on retiring? If so, when? How do you feel about it?
Do you have any favorite stories from your work life?

Religion

Can you tell me about your religious beliefs/spiritual beliefs?
What is your religion?
Have you experienced any miracles?
What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?
Do you believe in God?
Do you believe in the after-life? What do you think it will be like?
When you meet God, what do you want to say to Him?

Serious Illness

Can you tell me about your illness?
Do you think about dying?
Are you scared?
How do you imagine your death?
Do you believe in an after-life?
Do you regret anything?
Do you look at your life differently now than before you were diagnosed?
Do you have any last wishes?
If you were to give advice to me or my children, or even children to come in our family, what would it be?
What have you learned from life? The most important things?
Has this illness changed you? What have you learned?
How do you want to be remembered?

Family heritage

What is your ethnic background?
Where is your mom’s family from? Where is your dad’s family from?
Have you ever been there? What was that experience like?
What traditions have been passed down in your family?
Who were your favorite relatives?
Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?
What are the classic family stories? Jokes? Songs?

War

Were you in the military?
Did you go to war? What was it like?
How did war change you?
During your service, can you recall times when you were afraid?
What are your strongest memories from your time in the military?
What lessons did you learn from this time in your life?

 


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