On October 23rd, 2014, we updated our
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Interviewing Tips A Guide to Getting “the Good Stuff”
Go in prepared Become an expert/do research But don’t be afraid to admit your limited knowledge and let them show off their expertise*) Think about question order (natural segues, logical order) Have good questions Print out confusing/potentially controversial stuff
Warm them up Introduce yourself (Name, state your affiliation, briefly explain the story and why you’d like to talk to them)* Softball questions Build up to the juicy stuff Exception: Breaking news
What’s in a name? Get it right Double-check it Use “military lingo” They spell it for you Show it to them GET IT RIGHT (Did I mention that?) Check for titles at this time
Prep the questions ABSOLUTELY prep questions Number them Don’t plan spaces Give yourself some time to think/add Ask your colleagues what they’d want to know
The questions themselves One word answers? Bad. Let them tell you. Try, “Tell me….”or “Could you explain….” Clichés are a dime a dozen Watch out for “duh” questions Go off-script when needed Don’t forget the basics: 5Ws,1H* Get lots of specifics/details*
Recorders Not always Ask permission (with a spin) Record it Don’t erase it Keep it with your notes
Look up from your notebook Look at the person Eye contact Observe their behavior Observe the surroundings Put it all in the notes Give them time to think (don’t be afraid of a pause/silence) Be aware of your intimidation factor and adjust accordingly
Know your rights What’s public information? Who should you have access to? Where can you go? What can you see? What is a reasonable amount of time? Be thoughtful when exercising these rights.
Off the record Controversial/Dangerous territory Is your name Woodward or Bernstein? Don’t do it
Odds and ends Personal shorthand Right way to ask someone to slow down (use it!) Don’t take forever writing Read back for clarity No email interviews Be respectful… no matter what Leave, go to your “spot,” organize
*Attribution Thisis where I mention that I borrowed a few tips from David Sheets (Phone: 314- 971-0073 Email: dsheets@post- dispatch.com Facebook: david.sheets Twitter: @DKSheets )