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Can someone tell me how you Conduct a Face to Face Interview for Journalists?

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See ImageSee Image When done well a detailed interview will provide you with hard hitting quotes, valuable, and new information that will result in a comprehensive and informative piece of writing.

edit Steps

  1. Who - You need to be well informed about your subject and topic. Do preliminary research by using numerous sources such as the internet, other people and by reading articles relating to your subject that other journalists have written. This will enable you to ask knowledgeable and well thought out questions.
  2. Where - By arranging to meet at your subject's workplace or home the interview setting can provide you with numerous details and visual clues about your interviewee.
  3. Preparation - Using your background information, think about an angle that you may want to pursue. Define and clarify the purpose of your interview. Use short, open-ended questions that will encourage your subject to elaborate. Prepare more questions than you think you will need.
  4. Recording - Make sure you not only take notes but also use a recording device and/or a video camera depending on the situation. Ask the interviewee for consent before turning on your recorder. Bring spare batteries.
  5. Time allowance - Make sure you allow enough time, and inform your subject that after the interview you may need to be in touch to clarify any facts.
  6. Look smart – Make sure you dress appropriately depending on the situation, but even if you are just meeting your subject casually at a cafe it is still a sign of respect to ensure that you are dressed to impress.
  7. Introductions - Be polite and respectful. Introduce yourself and give your subject information about who you work for, why you are conducting the interview and what you hope to gain from it.
  8. Establish rapport - Be personable, natural and respectful. Put the person at ease by finding some common ground or interests. Make sure your body language is open and relaxed.
  9. Body language – Observe your subject's body language, facial expression and attire. This will help you build a full and descriptive picture for the reader.
  10. Wise wording – Keep your questions neutral and non judgemental. Start with surface questions then slowly delve deeper as rapport is established. Delay any sensitive questions until you feel that your subject is relaxed and open. Be assertive and curious but not too invasive or aggressive.
  11. Be flexible - Don't rely completely on your scripted questions, if the interviewee says something of interest you may need to pursue a different line of questioning.
  12. Active listening - Use body language and gesture to encourage the interviewee to continue speaking. If they are waffling, politely redirect the interview with some specific questioning.
  13. Focus - Don't lose direction or concentration. Refer back to your notes or questions occasionally to ensure that you are on track.
  14. Transition – Don’t bluntly switch from one topic to another; make your questions flow and your interview will become less rigid and more conversational.
  15. Probe – Don’t be shy to get out your spade and dig for detail, as long as you do it with courtesy.
  16. Be anal – Check and recheck your information, if the subject talks about other people and places check the spelling of their names etc.
  17. Be retentive – It’s important to recall what the interviewee has said or how they have responded to a previous question. This will ensure that you don’t repeat something and end up looking stupid, which could cause your subject to view you in a negative light.
  18. Get specific – Don’t settle for hazy or unclear answers, get exact and precise details. If your subject can’t provide the details you need but knows someone who can, get their information and establish contact straight away.
  19. Talk time - Don't try and fill in any gaps in your conversation with irrelevant small talk, just keep quiet and let your subject elaborate.
  20. Be Honest - If you don't understand something the interviewee has said don't just let it slide. Ask for clarification and details.
  21. Be moral - Don't try to put words into your subject's mouth or to trick them in any way as this won't be conducive to an honest end result.
  22. Revisit and reword - if you don't gain a sufficient answer to a question try revisiting the topic and rewording the question. Don't leave the interview feeling like you could have got more out of it.
  23. Double check – dates, names, spelling etc. Don’t take everything at face value; check your facts, statements and figures before publishing them.
  24. Be timely – Keep to the agreed time.
  25. Transcribe immediately – Type out your notes and recordings. Read through them and check to see if there is anything you have missed. If you need additional detail get in touch with your subject as soon as possible.

edit Video



edit Things You'll Need

  • Digital camera/photographer
  • Recording device
  • Notepad and pen
  • Spare batteries/charger

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