Interviewing is never simply a matter of raising questions and taking notes. In fact, it is a complicated skill which entails years of practice.
Before we start talking about some basic rules or elements needed in a good interview, keep in mind that do the best preparations for the worst possibilities!
For me, a good interviewing is a comfortable experience from which both interviewers and interviewees can get what they want: the interviewers can get golden quotes they need while the interviewees may finally get a chance to express their opinions. Certainly, there is a rapport being built and win-win outcome to be achieved.
Here are some tips I think might be useful to achieve a good interviewing:
Before the interview:
Make an appointment and be punctual: It is certainly not a bad idea to arrange an appointment beforehand, which provides not only a good opportunity for interviewers to show their courtesy and politeness but also some time for interviewees to think about what they are going to tell. And, of course, punctuality is key.
Background research is never too much: Journalists need to make sure they get enough background information about interviewees. It helps journalists to know the character, personality, and habits of a particular interviewee so as to raise appropriate questions in suitable manners.
During the interview:
Note and tape recorder at the same time: Note helps to highlight the most important parts and jot some ideas while tape recorder makes sure that any information will not be missed.
Activate the power of pause: I know that silence in an interview could be a little bit awkward, try not to hurry to fix this, instead, wait for the interviewees to talk. Sometimes, magical things happen when interviewees try to break the silence and come up with something in-depth.
Keep control: One of the most significant points we need to remember is that it is not a chat. It’s vital for interviewers to keep a firm hand on it. Use interruptions and correctness properly to make sure things are bound for the right direction.
Closing the interview:
A useful final question: Sometimes, a simple quick final question like “Is there anything else you think I should know?” may bring unexpected outcomes. Though the answer is mostly likely to be “No, thanks”, it’s always worth asking because you’ll never know whether it will elicit a wonderful story.
Exchange contact details: It’s only an emergency measure in case you need to contact them again for some missing information. You’d better not, but who knows?
I’ve got laughs and tears, warm experiences and heartbroken moments in my short journalistic study career. But undoubtedly, it’s something I’ll cherish for a whole life.