Basic interviewing tips


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Tips on what to avoid when carrying out an interview. Written for journalism students preparing for a career in broadcasting. Based on a training module on Media Helping Media that you are free to download, translate, adapt and reuse under Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0

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Basic interviewing tips

  1. 1. Image courtesy of The Internews Network via Flickr released under Creative CommonsTHE INTERVIEWHow to conduct an interiew
  2. 2. The Interview1: Always be polite They are giving you their time When you request an interview you are asking someone to give their time so that you can gather information for a news story You must remain polite throughout the interview Members of the public are under no obligation to agree, but public figures have a duty and are expected to be accountable - your interview is a way for their actions to be scrutinised However, even they are under no obligation to agree Image courtesy of The Internews Network via Flickr released under Creative Commons They may have reasons for avoiding you and your questions @helpingmedia
  3. 3. The Interview2: Don’t show your emotions You can feel, but don’t show it Whatever you feel about what the interviewee says, avoid agreeing or disagreeing Your job is to report on the topic you are covering objectively, not get involved emotionally It is natural to be affected by news, but a professional journalist will stick to their job of uncovering and producing facts Image courtesy of The Internews Network You must remain objective at via Flickr released under Creative Commons all times. @helpingmedia
  4. 4. The Interview3: Be clear on what you want Be honest about the context Tell the interviewee what you want to talk about and why Be honest about the context at the outset You should not - other than in exceptional cases where you feel information cannot be obtained any other way – interview on false pretences If you feel this is needed to get to the truth of the matter you must consult a senior Image courtesy of Barbara Dieu editor before going ahead via Flickr released under Creative Commons @helpingmedia
  5. 5. The Interview4: Don’t provide a script It’s not a PR exercise Although it’s important to give an interviewee fair warning of the areas you want to cover, you must never set out the questions as a list and hand them over To do so would be turning the interview into a public relations exercise If you give the interviewee enough time to prepare you may produce a better, more informative interview. Image courtesy of The Internews Network via Flickr released under Creative Commons @helpingmedia
  6. 6. The Interview5: Respond to news angles Be alert for news angles Make it clear that, although the interview is for a particular purpose, you may ask supplementary questions if anything unexpected arises If during an interview, a new piece of information is revealed that is of interest you need to be able to follow it up That’s why it’s important to give the interview an outline only rather than limiting Image courtesy of Halans via Flickr released under Creative Commons yourself to set questions @helpingmedia
  7. 7. The Interview6: Do your research Don’t be caught out Make sure you know your facts before you carry out the interview You owe it to the person you have arrange to talk to, and to your audience, to be as informed as you possibly can – you must not waste the time of the interviewee – or your audience There is nothing more embarrassing than making a silly mistake or being corrected by the interviewee You should also spend enough time researching the background of the interviewee, as well as the topic being covered Image courtesy of The Internews Network It may help you understand why they via Flickr released under Creative Commons say what they do. @helpingmedia
  8. 8. The Interview7: Don’t be judgemental You are paid to report facts Even if you think the interviewee is in the wrong, you have to treat the person with respect A reporter should not be swayed by their gut feelings You should always remain objective, fair and impartial, whatever the topic and no matter how you feel about what is being said What you feel doesn’t matter, Image courtesy of The Internews Network you are paid to report. via Flickr released under Creative Commons @helpingmedia
  9. 9. The Interview8: Don’t try to look smart And don’t try to be clever An interview is about uncovering facts that, had it not been for your interview, may never have surfaced It is not about making you look and sound great If you try to be smart, members of the audience may sense this and you may lose their respect It could also lead to tension in your interview that could Image courtesy of The Internews Network distract. via Flickr released under Creative Commons @helpingmedia
  10. 10. The Interview9: Pay attention Listen to the interviewee Never be so engrossed in thinking about your next question that you fail to hear the previous answer It is extremely annoying for a journalist to ask a question that has just been answered Equally, it is embarrassing for a journalist to fail to pick up on a line given in the previous answer Your audience will know you are not listening, and, if it is an important point you missed they will feel let down by you Image courtesy of Tracy Apps via Flickr released under Creative Commons @helpingmedia
  11. 11. The Interview10 Don’t fidget and fiddle Remove distractions Try to avoid anything that could distract from what is being said Move papers, pens, cups etc out of reach of both the interviewee and you Also, try to avoid sitting on chairs with wheels or chairs that rock - this can also be distracting Avoid obstacles between you and the interviewee, such as a large desk; it creates barriers Ask the interviewee to sit in a comfortable relaxed position so Image courtesy of Modul that they can concentrate on via Flickr released under Creative Commons your questions and giving their answers. @helpingmedia
  12. 12. The Interview11: Check for outside noises Don’t spoil the interview Check for external sounds that could disrupt the flow The exception is where the noise is part of the story The last thing you want to do is return to the studio with a great interview in terms of the Images courtesy of The Internews Network content but which is & Robert Simmons via Flickr released under Creative Commons unfit for broadcast @helpingmedia
  13. 13. The Interview12: Summing up Recap the main points Try to sum up the main points of the interview at the end It’s a way of confirming any news angles that were raised during the interview and also a nice way to end the interview The last words should Image courtesy of Geek Calendar always be thanks via Flickr released under Creative Commons @helpingmedia
  14. 14. The InterviewUsingmaterialtaken fromMediaHelpingMedia andreleasedunderCreativeCommonsBY-NC-SA @helpingmedia
  15. 15. The interviewCreative Commons Attribution Images taken from  The Internews Flickr under Network Creative Commons  Tracy Apps  Robert Simmons On the right are the Flickr user names of  Modul those attributed on  Barbara Dieu the slides featuring  Geek Calendar their work  Halans @helpingmedia