A Menu for a Great Interview
October 2014

“A Menu for a Great Interview,” New Era, Oct. 2014, 24–25

A Menu for a Great Interview!

Margaret Sheffield lives in Utah, USA.

I thought I knew all about Grandpa, but boy was I wrong.


Illustration by Natalie Hoopes

While recently involved in a stake youth music festival about family history, I was invited to find a story about a living relative or an ancestor. At first I wasn’t excited about the assignment. I’d always assumed I would work on family history when I was older. But I decided to start by emailing my grandparents to see if they had any interesting family stories.

After emailing, I called to schedule a time to interview my grandpa. We decided to meet at a restaurant for dinner. There, my grandfather told me childhood memories and a special story about being sealed to his family in the Salt Lake Temple when he was seven years old.

I’ve heard other people tell incredible tales about their ancestors, and I wanted an amazing story too. But as I learned more about my family, I discovered that dramatic stories don’t make up all of our family history. Most of our genealogy is full of everyday people who had incredible faith.

I really enjoyed interviewing my grandpa, but afterward I thought of ways I could have done things better.

First, we were in a noisy restaurant, and that was fine while Grandpa spoke of his childhood. But it didn’t provide the right atmosphere for his sacred story. I wish I’d had a quieter place to listen.

Second, I became so enthralled with his stories that I often forgot to take notes. I wish I’d recorded the interview so I could listen to the story and make sure no information was lost.

Finally, I learned the importance of asking more specific questions. Instead of asking, “What are some of your favorite childhood memories?” I could have asked, “What was your favorite Christmas tradition as a child?” or, “Do you remember a time when your testimony first began to grow?”

I still don’t know everything about my grandfather, but through interviewing him, I discovered life-changing events in his life and became closer to him. I’m grateful for the experience I had and look forward to interviewing him again, along with other relatives.