“ And then what happened?” The Art and Craft of Interviewing
You can rescue a story from bad writing, but it’s tough to recover from a bad interview .
Mitch Albom’s nominee for the most seductive sentence in the English language: “ I want to hear your story.”
Have a clue about what the story might be.
What would readers want to know? (Write these essential questions down.)
Now do some research.
Plan your interview. Consider the order of your questions.
Crafting questions Want quotes? Begin your questions with “what,” “how” and “why.”
Were you afraid when the tornado struck? What was it like when the tornado hit? Which is better?
A cop’s advice: "Don't ask them if saw a red car. Ask them what they saw."
Listen and follow up.
My favorite follow-up question: “ What do you mean by that?”
A close second: “ Can you give me an example?”
Trust me. It’s better to ask a stupid question than look stupid to your readers.
Take control. An interview is not a conversation. It’s not a debate. And it’s not about you.
Colorless questions usually provide colorful answers.” Let Oprah be Oprah.
Loaded questions are deadly.
“ A clean window gives a perfect view. When we ask a question, we want to get a window into the source. When you put values in your questions, it’s like putting dirt on the window. It obscures the view beyond.” - John Sawatsky
Play the Devil’s Advocate: “ How do you respond to critics who say … ?”
Silence can be your friend.
Revealing questions: What doubts did you have? How did you overcome them? What was the turning point? What would you do differently?
Ending an interview: Ask for the names of others who might illuminate your story. Ask if you can call with further questions. (Get a number.)