Interviews often start out as interrogations with series of questions and answers. Interview is in the heart of a journalist, yet so very few journalists have received training in this skill.
Journalists often want to meet someone, a stranger or a familiar face or contact for interview and for most journalists the only way to learn is on the job and mostly through painful trial and error. But as a journalist you need to be smart and observe the following tips to help in your interview.
- Have a big ear for listening: The interviewer might want to use your interview to say something important that you are not expecting. So you must be very patient in listening.
- Check your equipment to make sure everything is in perfect order before you leave your office, and after the interview check and cross check to be sure it has been recorded before you or the interviewee leaves. Because once lost it might be difficult to get that information again.
- Be sure of the fact, there is nothing worse than been told by the interviewee that you quote him or her out of context.
- Don’t forget to say thank you at the end of the interview no matter how difficult the interview or the interviewee has been.
- Make your questions shorter and precise and never ask more than one question at a time. Be as direct as you can be without being rude. Don’t forget there are only six basics W,H, i.e. who? what? why? where? when? and why?.
- Remember to always ask the most important questions first because if the interviewee is pressed he/she might not be able to answer all the questions or might be in a rush to get it done with.
- It’s a conversation and not a confrontation always have that in your mind in other not to make the interviewee look lost and stupid.
- Always maintain eye contact and check your body language so you don’t give your interviewee the impression that you understand what all he is saying and may not see the need to explain further.
- Never give an interviewee questions in advance but it’s ok to give a general idea on what the interview will be but don’t be too specific because it might limit the answers you will get.
- Make sure to be on time; don’t keep your interviewee waiting.
- Treat your interviewee with much respect; they deserve respect no matter their status in life.
- Be sure to take control of the interview and avoid a noisy place where there are so many distractions.
- Don’t forget you are not the centre of attraction, allow the interviewee give his/her perspective and not yours and be careful not to influence the perspective.
- Make your research well and be sure of what you want to get.
- Be sure to establish your ground rules and create a standard for yourself.