How to do an interview

You might be doing an interview as a radio host, television host or just a reporter. Anyhow it’s always a good idea to have some bullet points to keep you on the right track. Here are some of my personal tips and tricks based on my own experience from both writing and doing interviews live.

  1. Before your interview you need to get your facts straight. Who or what is your interview object? What’s special about this person or the situation? What is the background for this interview?
  2. What do you want to achieve with this interview? Try to formulate your goal into one sentence, also called a “focus-sentence” by journalists. During your interview you should always keep this sentence in the back of your head, just to keep you on the right track.
  3. Be a good listener. Listen to your interview object and ask “follow up questions”. Even though you have a list with well-prepared questions, the important thing is to listen to your object of interest. An interview is more like a dynamic mechanism; you need to go with the flow. But remember to have your “focus-sentence” in mind whilst asking your questions.
  4. Be careful with quotations. A good interview consists of questions, answers and quotations. Keep in mind that the interview object always have the right to do a quotation check, so be careful when writing your interview.
  5. Remember what the interview object said. It’s always a good idea to either bring a notebook, checklist or a recorder when doing an interview. They both have their ups and downs. You can use a recorder during the whole session, but on the other hand you will have a lot of tape to go through when you’re done. Taking notes is also an alternative, but be careful so you don’t lose your focus(!) as mentioned earlier: be a good listener.
  6. Don’t give away your questions before your interview. Some people prefer to get their questions beforehand so they can prepare their answers. Don’t fall into that trap. It’s always an idea to give the interview object a short brief about what you want to achieve and what kind of themes you want to discuss, but don’t give away your secrets just now.

 

  • Get your facts straight, keep to your “focus-sentence”, be a good listener, be careful with your quotations, remember what have been said and don’t give away your secrets beforehand! Good luck!

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