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How to do an interview

Three questions to ask

1. Reaction, opinion, predictions

What did you do? What did you do when.... What happened and what did you and others do about it? What did you think of it?

2. Emotion

The best kind of quote. People want to know what others are FEELING. It's human nature. Try constructing questions that suggest words to your subjects about their feelings: How annoying were the mosquitoes (on the fishing trip)? Was that fun, frustrating or what? What was your biggest headache making that material transfer work?

Watch your local television news and notice how the television interviewer and the subject often engage in the same sort of banter:

How did you feel?

I was in shock.

But this sort of exchange is meaningless. What the heck is shock anyway. It surely wasn't the clinical medical description that the subject is using!

But you never know what you are going to get from an interview subject if you offer the subject some words in your question.

3. Interaction

Who worked together? Who talked with whom? Who said what to whom? How did the process work? What department contributed and what kind of job did they do?

In recent years, we have heard a lot of television interviewers throw softball questions at their subjects "talk about when you..." That might be lazy for media reporters, but it is good form for organizational reporters. Ask your subject an open-ended question that lets him both give you information AND his reaction to that information: Talk about how that process worked and how difficult it was for you and your team.

Go back to the first interview page



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