Better Interviewing

via sparkminute.com

via sparkminute.com

They don’t teach you how to use a notebook in college. They don’t teach you how to ask the first question or even the second. There is little done to give you an idea of those first few “steps” in an interview.

I’ve always wondered why.

How can you expect someone to just know?

This Poynter post by is something you should read.

Interviewing is easier said than done. Even talking to people we know well can be tedious at times.

Now, I’m not saying it should be taught in college, but some guidance could be provided. Should students just be expected to know how to do things? Obviously, they know what an interview is, but it’s not always as easy as opening the notebook, asking questions and writing down what is said.

We have to know how to approach people, how to get them to open up and how not to burn them.

I’m going to take his bold points and expand on them.

Get smart.

This one should be obvious. Do your homework and everything will be fine. I’ve talked about it in this blog before.

If you have to research anything do it. The last thing you want to do is second guess yourself, while you’re interviewing someone.

Empathize.

This something I’ve just begun to broach on this blog. It’s a tough one, though.

All I can say is that reporters need to be human. Showing understanding can get you far. I’m not saying you should fake it, but people are more apt to open up to you if you understand what’s going on with them. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes isn’t hard. I recommend you try it, if you haven’t already.

As reporters, we should always be human first, right?

Capture how people talk.

This is learned over time. Getting the “flavor” of quotes is important. It’s literally an art form. I could spend a million posts on it and I wouldn’t get far at all.

You can’t use every quote you get. You have to weed out the “meh” and you use the “whoa.” Trust me. You’ll be able to hear the good quotes before you’re finished writing them down. It’ll come naturally over time.

No matter what, practice makes perfect. If you have trouble, just keep interviewing. It doesn’t come naturally for everyone.

As you get better, you won’t even think twice about it.

Jonathan

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