grandpa sitting with granddaughter

Writing Grandpa’s Life Story: 10 Questions to Ask Him in an Interview

Grandparents’ age and breadth of experiences usually mean they have some of the best stories to tell, but having a list of interview questions to draw from can help you prompt their memories and keep the conversation on track. Here are ten questions to start with when interviewing your grandfather.

10 Questions to Ask Your Grandpa in an Interview

  1. What do you remember about these high school experiences: Getting your driver’s license? Your first car? School dances? Teachers at school? Popular songs/movies/TV shows? Cool sayings kids had at the time? Trouble you got into? What you wanted to be when you grew up?
  2. How did you celebrate Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s Eve/etc. as a child? How do you celebrate those holidays now? What is your favorite holiday memory?
  3. What was your relationship with your father like in your childhood/adolescence? What about your relationship with your mother? What are some things you admired about them? What did you wish they had done differently?
  4. How did you meet Grandma? What did you do on your first date? How did the date go?
  5. What are your thoughts on [any major historical event in his lifetime]? Example historical events might include: World War II, Pearl Harbor, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Apollo moon landing, JFK’s assassination, the Watergate Scandal, Operation Desert Storm, the September 11 attacks, etc.
  6. What was your first job? What jobs have you had since then? Which was your favorite?
  7. What advice would you give to young people to help them arrive at retirement with no regrets?
  8. What do you value most about your family at this stage in your life? What are you most thankful for about them?
  9. What are some things you want to do that are still on your bucket list?
  10. What do you most enjoy about growing older? What are some of the hardest things about growing older?

Discussing what the culture was like when your grandpa was young and how society has changed since then may bring the most fascinating stories to the surface, so feel free to ask lots of follow up questions on those topics. Your grandpa is likely to enjoy reminiscing as much as you enjoy hearing his stories!

Bonus Interview Tip:

When interviewing your grandparents, you may need to take certain physical or mental conditions into consideration. If your grandpa is getting older, don’t be afraid to take frequent breaks. Most interviews shouldn’t last longer than an hour and a half anyway, but you may want to keep this conversation much shorter. Think about the best time of day for your interview also. Is Grandpa sharper in the morning or afternoon? Pick a time of day that will work well for him.

Want a little extra advice or assistance with your interviews? Contact us to learn about how our Biographer team can help.

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