By: Kendre Verbeck Senior APSU Communication Student
I was once extremely interested in Journalism, I even aspired for it to become my minor. One of the things I found the most interesting with becoming a Journalist was meeting new people and learning about them being a major factor in my career. I love to learn about people, from their experiences to their views on life. I find how everyone can be so alike or so different to be completely infatuating. So naturally one of my favorite parts of being involved in Journalism was to be given the chance to conduct interviews and research people. I quickly found how challenging that really was, and how I was pretty terrible at it. Now I pride myself with my ability to communicate with just about anyone, and I can get anyone to talk to me, but to use what they are saying to effectively write what I wanted to write about was very challenging to me. So I did what I do best, I google- magic’d my way into some great tips from Columbia University, I’m going to go ahead and share them now, because they are so helpful.
- Prepare carefully, familiarizing yourself with as much background as possible.
This is import, and sometimes easily over looked. You have to know exactly who you are talking to, and why you are talking to them. This is also an important time to try an figure out what you should and shouldn’t say to your subject, and that flows into knowing about them and what is appropriate.
- Establish a relationship with the source conducive to obtaining information.
You don’t need to become best friends or anything here, but to maintain a good professional relationship is highly important. Someone will open up more, become easier to talk to, or even make their time more available to talk to you if you can keep a good relationship with them. This one is pretty clear if you think about it. Make the subject want to talk to you and enjoy talking to you. It’ll be a better experience for the both of you.
- Ask questions that are relevant to the source and that induce the source to talk.
Encouraging communication from a subject can be one of the trickiest parts of carrying out an interview. Some people just naturally are easy to talk to and will keep the conversation and the interview going. Now some people of course are not always like that. It’s important to never ask simple yes or no questions. That makes it to easy to just end any conversation on the topic. Keep the conversation flowing, and keep it relevant.
- Listen and watch attentively.
Or as my mother’s call its; have manners. Don’t be on your phone and don’t be too absorbed in taking notes that you can’t even hold eye contact. Try recording the interview, (with permission obviously), so you can go back to the conversation to take notes. It’s also important to make sure you’re listening and understanding what all is being said. It’s easy to let nerves set in, or you’re focusing too hard on listening that you actually don’t listen and comprehend what is being said.
I find these all so painfully obvious while I’m reading them, but so easily overlooked, forgotten, or ignored when preparing or conducting an interview. Hopefully these tips will help you out on any future interviews!