Five tips for journalistic interviews

1. DO PRELIMINARY RESEARCH

Study up on your interview subject before even formulating questions. In the interview, you will seem more knowledgeable and professional while also avoiding asking questions that could be answered with a simple Google search or a quick glance at a LinkedIn page.

2. MAKE THEM COMFORTABLE

Mimicking their movements can psychologically make someone more comfortable with you. If they lean forward, you lean forward too. Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, says it’s all about your energy. If you exude nervousness, so will they. Try your best to be warm and open and listen attentively. Watch this video for other tips from Brandon:

 

3. TRIPLE CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT

Make sure everything is working before proceeding with your interview asking them to state and spell their name. There is almost nothing worse in journalistic interviews than conducting the entire interview, realizing some of your equipment wasn’t working and needing to ask the interviewee to sit down with you again.

4. ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

This should come after careful research, as mentioned in Step 1. After your preliminary questions, questions should not be able to be answered with “yes” or “no”. Ask questions that evoke emotion. Ask questions that will help you tell the story. Ask questions that get good quotes and challenge your interviewee to think.

5. WRAP UP AND FOLLOW UP

Although you show treat your interviewee with respect and consideration throughout, the end is your final impression and chance to be in their good graces. You never know when you’ll need to reach out to a source again. Thank them for their time and ask if they have anything to add that you didn’t address and if they could point you in the direction of your next steps.