What is trivia, Who are the members of the trivia team? How long has each been a member, Where and when will the competition be held? What kinds of questions will the team be asked? How is the contest conducted and who will run it?
How many questions make up the match? How fast must your team answer? How many teams compete in your district, your county, state?
Adapted from “What Questions Do We Ask” by Carol Hallenbeck, Practical Ideas For Teaching Journalism
Journalists Ask Questions
• What is the team going to do to get ready
for the big game, coach?
• Why did the school board make that
• How do you think this new program will
benefit the French department, Madame
Research the topic
before the interview
• Make sure to get to know the person or the
topic before the interview.
Prepare questions ahead of time
• Make sure to make a list of questions ahead of
• These questions should not be able to be answered
with a simple “yes” or “no.”
• Write questions that make the interviewee answer
with a statement. This will yield better quotes.
• Get as many specific details as possible.
• Remember that an interview is a conversation.
• Make sure your questions are specific and short.
At the interview
• Be on time
– Remember, you are taking their time.
• Be patient
– Make sure the person has finished
answering a question before going to the
• Be flexible
– Be ready to change your line of
interviewing if the person has more
interesting things to say.
…at the interview
• Be quiet
– You want the person you are interviewing to
do most of the talking
• Be smart
– Ask the tough questions last. That way, if the
person refuses to answer, at least you will
have all of the other information you need
• Be polite
– Remember to say “Thank You.”
Type of Questions
• Always have a list of questions prepared
• Don’t be afraid to stray from your prepared
questions if the person starts talking about
other interesting items.
• A beginning question or remark to start the
interview in a non-threatening manner
– Comment on the weather
– Comment on something in the office
– Comment on something of interest to the
– MOST IMPORTANT: Gain their trust of your
thoroughness, by asking for the spelling of
their name and double-checking you wrote
it down correctly.
First Step Question
• Address the topic of the interview
– Reporter: “When I made the appointment, I
said that I wanted to ask you about the
preparations the Trivia Team is making for
Saturday’s competition. Would you tell me
exactly what you are doing?”
• How qualified is the source?
• Reporter: “Mrs. Biblioteca, how many
years have you been the sponsor?”
Routine Factual Questions
• Ask the basics…
• The Who, What, Why, When, Where, and
• What is trivia, who are the members, etc.
• Numerical questions provide statistical
• How many years has the school competed?
How many times has the school won?
Open-Ended Question Openers
What do you think…
Why do you think…
How do you feel about…
Tell me about…
Most Critical Step: Listen
• Good interviewers are good __________
• Listen for the pearls and diamonds
• Ask a “responder” to find out more
Would you explain what you mean?
Can you give me an example?
• Don’t be afraid to ask, “Do I have this
• NEVER promise to let anyone review your
story in advance.
• Get the stories that show the source and
cohorts in action
• Ask directly: What is the most exciting
moment your remember in a Trivia Team
match? Did any of your players do
anything dumb? Was there a time when
you substituted a player whose substitution
won or lost the game?
• Ask questions that you think of on the spur
of the moment based on what the
• Often redirect the interview. Ask
something you thought of because of a
• “Do your team members carry good luck
charms?” “Why do you believe there are
no girls on the academic team?”
• Remember to take good notes or tape record the
• Pay attention to the answers you are given.
• Don’t be afraid to ask the subject to repeat or
• Find a quiet place to conduct the interview.
• Make sure to ask how to spell the person’s name.
• Make sure to listen intently.
Conclude the Interview
• Thank the source for his/her time.
• Ask if you can check back if you have any
• Invite the interviewee to call you if they
find they have more to say.
• Collect phone numbers, e-mail addresses,
etc. and leave yours.
“Off the Record”
• If the source tells a reporter that what s/he is about
to say is “off the record,” this means the source
does not want the information printed. If the
reporter listens to the information, s/he is bound
by reporter’s ethics not to publish it.
• To relieve yourself of responsibility, say “If I
cannot print it, please do not give me the
• If you do listen to it, you may try to find someone
who does want it printed.
• If the source says “No comment,” this
means s/he will not answer the question.
• Why s/he won’t talk is of interest.
• Reporters must rely on information from
elsewhere to make the story happen.