19 June kl. 13 Randi Skovbjerg Sørensen defends her thesis with the title – University of Copenhagen

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03 June 2014

19 June kl. 13 Randi Skovbjerg Sørensen defends her thesis with the title

Turning the spotlight: Looking at the interviewers
A dialogical approach to interaction analysis of two interviewers' sociolinguistic interviews with a personality psychological perspective on the interviewers

Time and place: 
Thursday June 19th, 13.00 at KUA, 22.0.11

The defence will be in English.


Very often, the speech of the person being interviewed is taken as the outcome of an interview. In this thesis, interviews are approached dialogically with a special focus on the interviewer. Rather than a monologue, the interview is viewed as a dialogue.

In the thesis, I address the following questions with quantitative, qualitative, and CA inspired analyses:
* How do two interviewers behave in the sociolinguistic interviews which they themselves classify as good or bad interviews? And how does this relate to their own ideals for the sociolinguistic interview?
* How is it possible to approach an explanation for variations in interviewer behaviour?

The point of departure of the study is two interviewers – a female and a male – who have conducted a range of sociolinguistic interviews for the LANCHART Centre. The studies show clear differences in what the interviewers classify as their best and worst interviews. For instance, the interviewers tend to take more of the initiatives to change the topic and ask more questions in their bad interviews than in their good interviews.

Further studies of the female interviewer's best and worst interview show that rapport is achieved in her best but spoiled in her worst. It also seems that face-work is carried out more carefully in her best interview than in her worst. Moreover, studying the female interviewer's best and worst interview show clear differences in the number of dispreferred responses to assessments and next turn repair initiators as responses to questions.

The studies make it clear that success and failure is not just one thing. The studies reveal great complexity and confirm that there are differences between the interviewers' best and worst interviews as well as between the two interviewers.

Studying four interviews of each of the two interviewers reveal consistencies in the two
interviewers' interview style. I conclude that the female interviewer has features which may be characterized as a risky and potentially face-threatening interview style, whereas the male interviewer has a less risky and rather flexible style. I find that their characteristic interactional features are (vaguely) in line with the results in a NEO PI-R personality test; however, the connection is too vague to anticipate or account fully for their special characteristics.