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How to conduct an interview… like a journalist

Whether you’re looking to find the best candidate for a position at your company or you’re starting a podcast, these interview tips will help you get the most out of your conversation with your interviewee. As a former television news reporter, I’ve used these tricks to interview politicians, celebrities, and even people accused of crimes.


Shhhhh


Silence is the reason small talk exists. Don’t be afraid of silence. More often than not, you’ll receive the best responses when you let the silence linger. Silences are awkward, and your interviewee will probably feel the need to fill them with words.


Yes/No


Avoid yes/no questions like the plague. Yes or no questions put you at risk for short answers with absolutely no context. Here’s an example of how to reformat a yes/no question:


Incorrect: Were you surprised that the city voted to raise property taxes next year?


Correct: How do you feel about the council’s decision to raise property taxes next year?


Huh?


Do not be afraid to seek clarity when you don’t understand your interviewee’s answer. Ask them to elaborate if you are unsure of something. It is much more difficult and embarrassing to retract misunderstood information than simply asking them to explain their response.


Bonus Tip!


Always wrap up your interview with “is there anything else you’d like to add?” People who agree to do interviews are generally good sports and want to be sure to answer all of your questions - which may not include some points they were hoping to touch on. When I was a reporter, this would happen at least twice a week. I’d receive helpful but basic information during my Q&A, but when I asked them if they’d like to add anything -- they’d rattle off at least 30 seconds of perfect soundbytes!


Looking for more interviewing tips? Reach out to me at olivia@olivia-mancuso.com for a free 10-minute consultation to see if one-on-one media coaching is right for you!


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