Tips for Hosting a Good Interview

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An essential part of being a good journalist is having the ability to conduct a good interview. Without a good interview, the story that is created is likely to lack substance or a journalist will not be able to get all of the information they need for their story.

There are some basic ways in which, as a journalist, you can conduct a successful one-on-one interview for a story.

First thing's first: be prepared. Make sure you know some backgroud about the person you are interviewing if possible. For example, if you were to interview Mick Jagger, you would want to be aware of the fact that he was the lead singer of The Rolling Stones.

Next, make sure you have enough time to conduct the interview. Don't think that 5 minutes will be enough time for you to get a whole story. If you only have a short amount of time, make sure you use what time you have wisely: don't waste time on small talk, get right to the important questions.

Make sure that you are friendly, and try to make the person you are interviewing feel as comfortable as possible. If any of you have sat through a job interview or any interview of some sort, it can be a nervewracking experience. Also, the more that an interviewee feels comfortable with you the more likely it is that they will be open and honest during the interview.

Another thing to do, if possible, is to avoid "yes" or "no" questions. You will typically get much more information out of a person if you ask questions that require more than either of those for an answer.

Using a recorder can be helpful, but make sure you know the laws. Some states do not allow the use of a tape recorder at all in journalism. Others have laws requiring you to ask consent of the interviewee first.

Taking notes is incredibly important in an interview. Without it, it is likely that you will not remember important aspects for your story, and it will be nearly impossible to report correct quotations.

For more tips on interviewing, you can check out pages 78-81 in the textbook Inside Reporting: A Practical Guide to the Craft of Journalism by Tim Harrower or check out this website or simply Google-search "tips for conducting an interview".

Photo Credit: via Creative Commons


Amanda Hintgen February 23, 2011 at 12:57 PM  

It is important that you mentioned that you need to know the background information. No one wants to look like a fool. Also, it is important to know how to pronounce names correctly.

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