Interviewing

One of the projects I’m working on involves me carrying out some in depth interviews. I have a great subject coming to speak to me tomorrow: a fascinating person who will have a lot to say, I think. My only issue now is that I’ve never done this before!

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I guess we’ve all got to start somewhere.

The great thing is that my interviewee is a lovely, down-to-earth person who will I suspect be fairly tolerant if I’m not a really polished interviewer. I have been trying to do my research though, and also thinking about some of the techniques of great interviewers on television. So far, it seems like the following are decent suggestions for conducting a good interview:

  • Decide what you want to find out – it is a portrait of the person, or their opinions, or their knowledge?
  • Keep the questions simple. Those which are too long winded and multifaceted can not only confuse the interviewee, but also allow them to distort things around to their pet topics.
  • Remember that although it can be useful to show empathy in an interview to build trust and understanding, the interview is not about you.
  • Ask open ended questions – how, why and ‘tell me about’ – to bring out more of the story than a simple yes/no response.
  • Ask ‘forward’ questions. That us, prompt your subject to think about what they will be doing or are excited about for the future, or where they see the area in question developing.
  • Find out what they are passionate about.
  • LISTEN! Don’t be afraid to change the direction of the interview if something fascinating comes up.

As a novice at this, I’d love it if anyone has any further suggestions or insights! šŸ™‚Ā I’ll let you know how it went…

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2 thoughts on “Interviewing

  1. Sitting down and talking with someone is the best part about reporting. I’m usually on the shy side, but I think that helps because then the person feels like they’re really being listened to. My advice is don’t try to be like those television personalities. They can be pretty offputting. Just be yourself. Simple questions here and there can be the best. One that I use a lot is “why do you love (whatever it is that person does).” People get this look in their eyes and then they just start talking about how much they love what they’re doing. It’s a lot of fun.

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