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Flashcards in Ch. 5 - Interviewing Deck (69):

Informational Interview

- the informational interview is the most common of interviews bc you participate in informational interviews nearly every day.
- journalists, recruiters, police officers, attorneys, counselors, supervisors, consumers, professors, students, etc. rely on informational interviews to obtain or transmit facts, opinions, attitudes, feelings and observations
- the informational interview may be as brief and informal as a student asking a professor for clarification of a project or as lengthy and formal as a journalist talking to a CEO about a company's hiring plans


Informational Interview

- regardless of the length, formality or setting, the PURPOSE of every informational interview is to obtain relevant and timely information as accurately and completely as possible in the shortest amount of time.
- this requires skillful and insightful questioning, listening, observing and probing into superficial and perhaps inaccurate answers.
- unfortunately, few of us (including journalists) are are trained in interviewing.
- Chip Scanlon (author of reporting and writing: basics for the 21st century) writes that "journalists get little or no training in this vital aspect of their job. most learn by trail and error"
- Journalist Sara Stuteville, "it is odd that so much emphasis is put on teaching journalists how to write an article when that skill is useless without also teaching journalists how to develop strong interview techniques"


Preparing the Interview:

1. determine purpose
2. study the situation
3. research the topic
4. structure the interview

- thorough preparation is the essential first step in conducting and taking part in informational interviews.
- unfortunately, there is no simple formula or model to follow.
- as Eric Nadler writes, they are as varied as the conversations we have and the people we talk to.
- preparation consists of determining your goal, researching the topic, and structuring the interview.
- Scanlan describes interviewing as a process, like writing, that invovles a series of decisions and actions designed to get the best possible information
- the first step in this process is to determine your goal


Preparing the Interview:

Determine Your Purpose

- your purpose controls how you prepare and what you do in informational interviews
- begin your preparation by asking a series of questions.
- Why are you going to conduct this interview? What information do you need: attitudes, feelings, opinions, facts, eye-witness accounts, expert or lay testimony?
- How quickly do you need this information? How will you use this information: to make a decision, take an action, write a research report, prepare a feature story, prepare a court case?
- Ken Metzler, professor of journalism, said that when you know exactly what you want, you're halfway there


Preparing the Interview:

Study the Situation

- know all there is to know about a situation
- consider situational variables that may affect your interview.
- when and where will the interview take place? how might events before and after affect the interview? will invited or uninvited audiences be present? what outside influences should you be aware of? how much time do you have to prepare? are you responding to an emergency crisis that gives you little time to prepare? are you responding to an emergency or crisis? is there a deadline for obtaining the information you need? should you defer an interview until you are better informed and ready to manage difficult questions in a difficult situation?
- prepare yourself for human suffering, emotional outbursts, scenes of destruction, threats to health and safety and filthy conditions.
- we have all observed journalists, first responders, police officers, and government officials having to deal with the aftermath of tornados, forest fires, crashing on highways, shootings, and the removal of children from poor living conditions
- too often we see interviewers intruding into people's lives at the wrong time and in the wrong place.


Preparing the Interview:

Research the Topic

1. research enables you to determine what info is readily available from other sources so you don't waste valuable interview time.
2. research may reveal areas of a topic that remain unaddressed and of particular interest to you, such as explanations, personal experiences, interpretations of data, the many sides of an issue, attitudes and feelings
3. be perceptive and critical about the pre-interview information you discover. not everything in print, particularly on the internet, is accurate and truthful. many sources have hidden agendas that lead to shoddy data.
4. your questions must reveal that you have done your homework to establish credibility with the interviewee.
5. evidence of your research shows you cannot be easily fooled and motivates interviewees to respond honestly, insightfully, and in depth.

- the internet and databases are essential resources for interviews
- a thorough research of the topic serves five functions for the information interview.
- FIRST, research enables you to determine what information is readily available from other sources so you do not waste valuable interview time. Helpful sources may include course syllabus, journal or newspaper articles, the internet, annual reports, instructional manuals, court documents, etc.
- some journalists claim that research time should be 10 times the actual interview time.
- SECOND, research may reveal areas of a topic that remain unaddressed and of particular interest to you, such as explanations, personal experiences, interpretations of data, the many sides of an issue, attitudes and feelings.
- research enables you to ask insightful questions and avoid false assumptions about events, cause and effects, and the willingness and ability of an interviewee to give accurate information.


Preparing the Interview:

Research the Topic (continued)

- THIRD, be perceptive and critical about the pre-interview information you discover. not everything in print, particularly on the internet, is accurate and truthful. many sources have hidden agendas that lead to shoddy data. is the information you have the most recent information available? have sources changed their minds because of changing circumstances or experiences? are newer studies available?
- journalist Jaldeep Katwala warns "be sure of your facts. there is nothing worse than being told you are wrong by an interviewee- especially when its live"
- FOURTH, your questions must reveal that you have done your homework to establish credibility with the interviewee.
- when you ask your questions, display the fact that you have done these things first; this will help establish that you're not being a lazy sponge and wasting people's time. better yet, display what you have learned from doing these things.
- failure to do your homework and a show of ignorance during an interview can destroy your credibility and embarrass you and your organization.
- don't try to impress a person with your knowledge; let your knowledge and understanding of a topic reveal itself in your questions and reactions.
- your research may provide more information than you can use in any one interview, and you may hate to leave out statistics, revelations or stories you find interesting or provocative.
- resist the temptation to ask too many questions or to cram too much information into the questions you ask.


Preparing the Interview:

Research the Topic (continued)

- FIFTH, evidence of your research shows you cannot be easily fooled and motivates interviewees to respond honestly, insightfully, and in depth.
- we are flattered when others take the time to learn about us, our interests, field, accomplishments, and opinions.
- we take pride in what we do and who we are.
- know appropriate jargon and technical terms and use and pronounce them correctly.
- know the respondent's name, how it's pronounced, title and organization.
- you should know if a person is a professor, instructor, editor or reporter, pilot or navigator, CEO or CFO, and specific doctor qualifications
- show interest in me, and i'll show interest in you


Preparing the Interview:

Structure the Interview (Interview Guide)

- as you research a topic, jot down areas and subareas that will evolve into an interview guide.
- the guide may be an elaborate outline, major aspects of a story, or key words in a notebook.
- the traditional journalistic interview guide may be all you need for an interview, and these six words may become the primary questions you ask in a moderately scheduled interview: who, what, when, where, how, why
- length, sophistication, and importance of the interview will dictate the nature and details of the guide.
- chronological sequences are effective in moving through stories or happenings that occur in time sequence.
- a logical sequence such as cause-to-effect or problem-to-solution is appropriate for dealing with issues and crises.
- a space sequence is helpful when an interview deals with places.
- remain flexible because few informational interviews go exactly as planned.
- it's good to plan a structural sequence, but remain flexible.


Preparing the Interview:

Interview Schedule

- a moderate schedule is a useful tool for long interviews.
- if your interview will be brief or you are skilled in conduction informational interviews, you may need only a guide to conduct a nonscheduled interview.
- if not, develop a moderate schedule that turns topics and subtopics into primary questions and provides possible probing questions under each.
- a moderate schedule eliminates the necessity of creating each question at the moment of utterance and allows you to phrase questions carefully and precisely.
- at the same time, the moderate schedule allows flexibility to delete questions or create new ones as the need or opportunity arises.
- ex. you may accidentally discover an issue or topic not detected during research or planning that warrants a detour. you needn't fear if you digress from planned schedule, and the risks are wroth taking.
- you can return to schedule and pick up where you left off.
- Thomas Berner: if a good question comes up in answer to another question,, jot it down in the margin of your schedule and return to it when most appropriate.
- the freedom to adapt and improvise makes the moderate schedule ideal for informational interviews.


Selecting Interviewees

- your purpose and the situation may determine the party you must interview: a specific injured police officer, a witness to a fire at an oil refinery, member of congress, cancer survivor, etc.
- if so, all you need to do is review what you know about this person's background, positions on issues, ability as an interviewee, and relationship with you and look into what you don't know.
- you may need to select from among several police officers injured while on duty, witnesses of an oil refinery fire, cancer survivors, etc.
- your purpose may require you to interview established experts on your topic such as scientists, professors or attorneys.
- it may require you to interview laypersons not skilled in specific professions such as an accident or shoppers at a mall.
- once you know the person or type of persons you must interview, use four criteria to select interviewees:
1. level of information
2. availability
3. willingness
4. ability


Selecting Interviewees:

1. Level of Information

- make sure your interviewee possesses the level of information you need.
- the most important criterion is whether a party has the information you need.
- if so, what is the party's level of expertise through experiences, education, training, and positions?
- for instance, primary sources are those directly involved with the information you want
- support sources are those with important connections to primary sources
- expert sources are those with superior knowledge or skills relating to the information you need.
- your goal must be to assess a person's level of expertise.
- as an oral historian, you may want to interview a person who was actively involved in organizing a political rally for president JFK, not merely a person who attended a rally.
- as a journalist, you may interview a CEO about a propose merger, not an employee.
- Raymond Gorden writers about key informants who can supply information on local situations, assist in selecting and contacting knowledgable interviewees, and aid in securing their cooperation.
- identify these people and how they might assist in selecting respondents. a key informant might be a family member, friend, fellow student, employer or aide.


Selecting Interviewees:

2. Availability

- do not assume a potential interviewee is unavailable; ask
- a source might be too far away, available only for a few minutes when you need an in-depth interview, or unavailable until after a certain deadline.
- consider the telephone, videoconference, or e-mail before giving up on a source.
- never assume a person is unavailable.
- stories abound among journalists and researchers about famous interviews that occurred merely because the interviewers asked for interviews or were persistent in asking.
- you may talk yourself out of an interview by being certain the person will not talk- a self-fulfilling prophecy: "You don't have time to talk, do you?"
- consider a possible go-between, Gorden's key informant, such as a mutual friend or associate, or the public relations department.
- you might go to where a person works, lives or plays rather than expect the person to come to you.
- sometimes an interviewee will ask to see some or all of your questions in advance. as a general rule - "don't do it"
- giving questions to an interviewee in advance may limit the questions you can ask during the interview to those you listed, prevent you from adapting to changing circumstances and events, and enable the interviewee to phrase and rehearse answers in advance.
- at a minimum, agreeing to such request may destroy the spontaneity of the interview.
- be careful of excess demands about topics and questions being off-limit and off-the-record, which may make a person no longer a viable interviewee.


Selecting an Interviewee:

3. Willingness

- fear of what might be revealed in an interview might make participants reluctant.
- potential respondents may be unwilling to meet you for a variety of reasons including mistrust of your or your organization, profession or position.
- some information they give might harm them, their organizations, or significant others, particularly bc of inaccurate reporting, hidden agendas, or sensationalism prevalent in news sources
- they also may feel that the info you want is no one else's business or a waste of time.
- in short, a respondent may see nothing in the interview that warrants the time and risks involved
- lawsuits materialize today over almost anything a person says or does not say, and organizations are fearful of being sued for millions. they control who can speak for them.
- might have to convince interviewees that you can be trusted for confidentiality, accuracy, thoroughness, and fair reporting.
- ppl will cooperate if they have an interest in you, the topic or the outcomes of the interview.
- point our why their interests will be better served if information and attitudes are known.
- may have to use arm-twisting techniques as a last resort: 'if you don't talk to us, we'll have to rely on another source'
- be careful of threats bc they can ruin an interview, damage relationships, and preclude future contacts; also be equally wary of those who are too eager to be interviewed.


Selecting an Interviewee

4. Ability

- many potential interviewees are willing but unable
- some interviewees study how to respond, evade and confront.
- is the potential interviewee able to transmit information freely and accurately?
- poor memory, failing health, stake of shock, biases or prejudices, habitual lying, exaggeration or oversimplification, and repression of horrific memories may make a person unacceptable.
- elderly witnesses may remember events differently than they really were. mother and father sad over lost child may be unable to focus on details.
- interviewers often expect person to relate minute details and exact timing on events that took place months before, when most of us have trouble recalling what we did yesterday.
- when time permits, become familiar with the interviewee ahead of time. learn about the person's accomplishments, personality, reputation, biases, interests, and interviewing traits.
- Star Zagofsky: the truth is that some ppl have a good story to tell on subject and others don't. some ppl are naturally talented at being interviewed, and others aren't
- many ppl are interviewed daily and a growing number have taken intensive courses in which they have learned how to confront interviewers, use humor to evade questions, and phrase ambiguous answers that reveal little or nothing.
- an interviewer in time, should know a source well enough to be able to know when a distortion is occurring, from a facial expression that doesn't correspond to a certain reply


Selecting Interviewers

- Eric Nadler claims that the number one trait of an ideal journalist, or any informational interviewer, is curiosity about everyone and everything.
- Ken Metzler claims the best interviewers are those who enjoy people are are eager to learn more about the ppl they meet and who are eternally curios about darned near everything.
- along with curiosity, the interviewer should be friendly, courteous, organized, observant, patient, persistent and skillful
- a situation may require an interviewer of a certain age, gender, race, ethnic group, religion, political party, or educational level.
- a 70 yr old interviewer might find it as difficult to relate to a teenage as a teenage would to the 70 yr old.
- a woman might confide more to a female interviewer than to a male.
- an interviewer of Haitian ancestry may be fore effective with interviewing Haitian immigrants bc of common culture, traditions and communication customs.


Relationship of Interviewer and Interviewee

- once you have selecting an interviewee and an interviewer, you should be aware of the relationship that exists between the two.
- informational interviews rely on "secondary relationships" that are not intimate and rely of few relational dimensions.
- these dimensions are more functional than emotional and rely on surface cues such as obvious similarities, appearance, and nonverbal behavior.

- to what degree does each party want to be included in this interview?
- to what degree does each party like and respect each other?
- what degree of control or dominance will each party exert or try to exert in this interview?
- what is the degree of trust between the interview parties?


Relationship of Interviewer and Interviewee

- know the relational history of the parties.
- status difference and similarity affect motivation, freedom to respond, control and rapport
- be aware of the perceived similarities and differences of both parties.
- a positive relationship is critical to successful informational interviews bc interviewers probe into beliefs, attitudes, values, feelings, and information a source may prefer not to reveal, let alone in depth.
- the status difference between interview and interviewee offers advantages for each party.
- when an interviewer is subordinate to an interviewee (student to professor, associate to manager, vice president to president): the interview need not be an expert, the interviewee will not feel threatened, the interviewee will feel freer to speak, the interviewee might want to help the interviewer.


Relationship of Interviewer and Interviewee

- when an interviewer is superior to the interviewee (lieutenant to sergeant, CEO to division head, physician to nurse practitioner): the interviewer can control the interview, the interviewer can reward the interviewee, the interviewee may feel motivated to please the interviewer, and the interviewee may feel honored to be a participant.
- some orgs give high-status-sounding titles to representatives to enhance their superior aura; chief correspondent rather than correspondent, VP instead of sales director, editor rather than reporter, executive rather than supervisor.
- when the interviewer is equal to the interviewee (student to student, associate to associate, researcher to researcher): rapport is easily established, there are fewer communication barriers, there are fewer pressures, and high degree of empathy is possible.
- in many situations, interviewees prefer interviewers similar to them in a variety of ways, including gender, age, education, professional field, etc. some will not grant interviews to orgs or people they see as lower status.
- ex. if they are senior members of congress, they expect the media to send their senior correspondents.


Choosing Location and Setting

- although some sources state that the interviewer should take control of the location bc it's your interview and you should decide what the background should be, your choice is not always that simple
- if an attorney says she will grant an interview only in her office, that's where you will conduct the interview.
- you might prefer to be seated in a comfortable chair facing one another with no barriers separating you, but the interviewee may insist on sitting behind a desk with its status symbols readily apparent. do the best with what you have.
- if there is any way you can interview in a place that has some relevance to the story of your subject you'll have much greater success, not only bc you'll gain further sense of of context but bc people are often more comfortable and open when they are in familiar places or what feels like their territory.
- many of best interviews are conducted at hospitals, prisons, factories, on locations of accidents, protests, natural disasters, etc.
- Eric Nalder said that it is essential to interview people at the place where they are doing the think that you are writing about. it's important to not only hear answers but to see and get the feel of things
- ex. he gained better experience and good insights by joining the life of oil tankers aboard a ship in the Gulf of Alaska


Opening the Interview

- plan the opening of the interview with great care bc the level of trust between you and your interviewee begins immediately with the way you look, the way you act, how you sound, the words you use, the comments you make and the questions you ask
- a good report or story may depend on a total stranger's cooperation and participation. be respectful and strive for a pleasant professional conversation rather than a confrontation.
- small talk, easy to answer icebreaker questions, and friendly comments establish rapport and serve as transitions to the body of the interview.
- be careful of preparing small talk to the point to which it sounds trite, mechanical, ritual, or staged.
- do not be too familiar with the interviewee. if you are a stranger, identify yourself, your position, and the organization you represent.
- even if you are well known to another, explain what you wish to discuss and why, reveal how the info will be employed, and state how long the interview will take. don't pull out a notebook or produce a recorder immediately bc these can threaten the interviewee.


Opening the Interview

- ask a q about something you have noticed in the interviewee's office about hobbies, interests and a news item. congratulate the person on a recent recognition or accomplishment.
- insert something humorous that you discovered in your research or encountered in planning the interview
- consider telling your own story to open up the interviewee. don't begin with difficult or embarrassing questions
- prepare the opening questions carefully.
- think it through, hasty sounding questions get hasty answers or no answers at all. the more you do to demonstrate that having put thought and effort into solving your problem before seeking help, the more likely your are to actually get help.
- design the opening to fit each occasion and interviewee. a casual compliment, friendly remark about a topic or mutual friend, or a bit of small talk might create a friendly relaxed atmosphere with one person and produce the opposite effect with a busy, hassled interviewee who doesn't like or have time for small talk.


Opening the Interview

- establishing a positive relationship between interviewer and interviewee is critical to the success of every interview. try to establish a friendly conversational rapport, like old friend talking without seeming to be too friendly or close. enhance the relationship, but don't try to leap beyond it.
- avoid any semblance or artificiality in the opening
- be sure both parties have a mutual understanding of ground rules governing the interaction before proceeding past the opening. this is particularly important in investigative interviews conducted by police officers, journalists, and supervisors.
- if everything of importance is off the record, however, why conduct the interview. make clear that there can be no retroactive off-the-record demands.
- both parties must understand what "off the record" means. if a person does not want to be quoted, try to get agreement that quotations may be attributed to an unnamed source or worked into the text of a report without attribution.


Conducting the Interview

- the goal of the informational interview is to get in depth and insightful info that only an interviewee can offer.
- it is essential to get beyond superficial and safe Level 1 interactions to risker and deeper Level 2 and Level 3 interactions.
- you must motivate an interviewee to disclose beliefs, attitudes, and feelings as well as unknown facts.


Conducting the Interview:

Motivating Interviewees

- know what motivates each interviewee.
- trust is essential for informational interviews.
- there are many reasons why a person might be reluctant to talk to you or to communicate beyond level 1 interactions.
- an interviewee may have been burned in previous interviews such as this one. a negative or threatening reputation may proceed you. an interviewee may seen the interview as a risk to self-image, credibility with others, or a career
- the interview may also be seen as an invasion of privacy or posing the danger of opening up areas the person may prefer to remain private, forgotten, or unknown.
- be careful of people who appear too eager to take part and reveal secrets. they may be after publicity, exposure, and ego-trip, a change to sell a product or idea, or to get even with someone or an organization.


Conducting the Interview:

Motivating Interviewees

- ppl are likely to communication beyond Level 1 if you adhere to simple guidelines that follow the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- this rule applies to the most difficult of interview situations. a report about interrogation interviews with insurgents in Iraq noted that the successful interrogators all had on thing in common in the way they approach their subjects, they were nice to them.
- people with communication freely and accurately if they trust you to react with understanding and tact, maintain confidence, use the info fairly, and report what they say accurately and completely.
- Ken Metzler recommends that we avoid the term interview and call it a conversation, talk, discussion or chat.
- he also advices to drop names of people the interviewee respects that may serve as a credibility enhancer and motivator
- trust is essential for informational interviews
- don't have an attitude. from the opening to the end, show sincere interest in and enthusiasm for the interviewee, the topic and answers.
- remain neutral and don't reveal how you feel about answers and issues.
- control interview without interrupting and look for natural pauses to probe or to ask primary q's.
- ask q's rather than make statements.
- listen not only with your ears but also with your eyes, face, nodes, and attentive posture.
- it is not the questions you ask that make for a successful interview but the attention you pay to the answers you receive. some recommend listening to the interviewee 100% of the time.


Conducting the Interview:

Asking Questions

- q's are tools of the trade that motivate interviewees to provide information and insights. unfortunately, interviewers tend to ask too man questions and this limits opportunities to listen, observe and think.
- interviewers may appear arrogant or assume they are entitled to an answer.
- you aren't, after all, paying for the service. you will earn an answer, if you earn it, but asking a substantial, interesting and though-provoking question - one that implicitly contributes to the experience of the community rather than merely passively demanding knowledge from others.


Conducting the Interview:

Asking Open-Ended Questions

- listening is as important as asking
- make the interviewee the star of the show
- open q's motivate and encourage interviewees to communicate.
- thorough answers to open-ended questions allow you to listen appropriately (for comprehension, empathy, evaluation and resolution) and observe the interviewee's mannerisms, appearance, and nonverbal communication.
- listening and observing helps determine the accuracy and relevance of answers and the interviewee's feelings.
- a raised eyebrow or slight hesitancy of a respondent from another culture, for instance, may signal that you used a slang phrase, colloquialism, oxymoron with which this person is unfamiliar with or that sounds strange.


Conducting the Interview:

Asking Probing Questions

- be an active listener, not a sponge
- be patient and persistent, don't interrupt unless the person is obviously off target, evading a q, or threatens to continue answering forever.
- flexible nature of informational interview requires a full range of probing questions
- probes, follow up q's, are essential. it's seldom the first q that gets to the heart of the matter, it's the 7th or maybe 16th q you didn't know you were going to ask but have chosen to ask bc of your careful, thoughtful listening.
- use silent and nudging probes to encourage the person to continue. tolerate silences bc the interviewee might want to say something important about which you did not plan to ask
- use informational probes to detect cues in answers or to get additional information or explanations
- restatement probes to obtain a direct answer
- use reflective or mirror probes to verify and clarify answers and to check for accuracy and understanding
- use clearinghouse probes to be sure you have obtained everything of importance in your story or report.
- use metaphorical questions such as "governor, do you plan to hit a home run with this legislative proposal?" to motivate interviewees to expand answers in an interesting and understanding manner.


Conducting the Interview:

Asking Probing Questions

- you can't plan for every piece of info or insight a person might have.
- even if you go into an interview armed with a list of q's the most important probably will be the ones you ask in response to an answer.
- if an person says something surprising or reveals a secret, follow this lead to see where it takes you. then go back to your schedule and continue as planned until the next lead comes along.
- inflexible interviews miss chances to gain valuable insights and info.
- be courteous, friendly, tactful and non argumentative. be understanding when delving into sensitive or personal areas
- be prepared to back off if an interviewee becomes emotionally upset or angry.
- there are times when you need to pry into potentially embarrassing areas such as the nature o fan illness, marital issues, organizational finances or an arrest.
- persistent probing is essential in informational interviews, but you must know when to stop. an interviewee may become agitated, confused or silent if you probe too far.


Conducting the Interview:

Phrasing Questions

- all rules are made to be broke, but you must know when and how.
- phrase q's carefully especially with unplanned probing q's that you created on the spot.
- make each question brief and to the point and then give the interviewee your full attention
- watch out for common question pitfalls like bipolar trap, tell me everything, open-to-closed switch, double-barreled inquisition, etc.
- sometimes you must break the rules to get info you want. it may be necessary to ask obvious questions even when you know the answer in advance, such as "I see you were in Iran last spring"
- seemingly obvious q's can relax the respondents by getting them to talk about things that are well known and easy to discuss, showing interest in topics important to interviewees, and revealing that you have done your homework.
- a leading push such as "you surely don't believe that?" may provoke a person into revealing an interchange.
- be careful when asking leading q's to children, studies have shown that kids are susceptible to such questions bc they are very attuned to taking cues from adults and tailoring their answers based on the way questions are worded.
- you may ask a double-barreled q at a press conference to get two or three answers bc it may be the only question you get to ask.
- a bipolar q will produce a yes or no for the record, a common need in journalistic interviews.
- phrase q's carefully and avoid confusion; watch of for jargon and sound-alike words.


Conducting the Interview:

Phrasing Questions

- some interviewees will answer q's about which they have no knowledge, faking it rather than admitting ignorance.
- some are experts on everything and nothing.
- listen to call-in programs on radio to hear people make incredibly uninformed or misinformed claims, accusations, and observations.
- sometimes interviewees will play funny games and answer ambiguously
- think before asking; listen to answers to avoid embarrassments bc you overlooked important information or didn't listen well enough
- it can be embarrassing or insulting to repeat a question during an interview bc you forgot you already asked it.
- try to avoid the "how do you feel about that" questions bc its the most trite and overused q's in american journalism and sources begin to hate it after time. interviewees often respond with brief answers.
- substitute this by asking "what were you thinking when...."


Conducting the Interview:

Note Taking and Recording

- although experts disagree on the extent of note taking and the use of electronic recording bc both can be intrusive and unreliable, it is wise to use the means best suited to you, the interviewee, the situation, and the report you will prepare.
- lack of note taking or recording may make it impossible to recall figures, dates, names, times, details, and quotations accurately.


Conducting the Interview:

Note Taking

- note taking increases your attention to what is being said and how, and this enhanced attention shows respondents that you are interested in what they are saying and that you are concerned with accuracy
- this direct involvement allows the person to see you working and doing your job
- if you take notes according to the structure of the interview, you have your notes clearly organized when the interview ends and can easily locate info you need when writing your report or story
- there is disadvantages: bc respondents tend to speak rapidly, it may be hard or impossible for you to record in writing exactly what was said.
- it's also difficult to concentrate on q's and answers and to maintain eye contact while writing notes so you may fail to hear or probe into an answer bc you are busy writing rather than listening.
- not taking may hamper the flow of info bc the interviewee may become anxious or curious about what you are writing.
- ppl may be reluctant to talk while you are writing or feel a break in communication while you are focusing on your pad instead of them.
- in an in-depth interview with a newspaper published, one of our students discovered that whenever she began to write, the interviewee would stop answering until she stopped writing, apparently to let her catch up. before long, he arranged his chair so he could see what she was writing.


Conducting the Interview:

Note Taking

- follow these guidelines when taking notes during an interview
- ask permission to take notes and explain why note taking is beneficial to both parties
- show your notes occasionally to the interviewee to reduce curiosity and anxiety, check for accuracy, and enable the interviewee to fill in gaps and volunteer info
- preserve communication by maintaining eye contact and making note taking as inconspicuous as possible
- instead of writing full sentences and every word, use abbreviations or a personal shorthand like when sending text messages
- reduce the time it takes by writing down only important information, key words and the gist of some quotes.
- take notes throughout rather than sporadically during the interview to avoid signaling that the interview just dropped a "bombshell" quote or causing the interviewee to become cautious in revealing important info
- not taking tends to slow the pace of the interviews but if an interviewee is answering too rapidly for good note taking, ask the person tactfully to slow down, repeat an answer, or ask a stalling q such as "tell me more about that" to give you time to catch up
- review your notes immediately following the interview to fill in gaps, check for accuracy and objectivity, complete abbreviations, translate handwriting, and determine if another interview is necessary
- maintain communication while taking notes


Conducting the Interview:


- only a recorder can provide a complete record of how, when, and what an interviewee says.
- it enables you to relax, concentrate on what is being said and implied, and then create effective probing questions.
- you can hear or watch what was said and how it was said hours or days afterward.
- a recorder may pick up inaudible answers and give you a complete and accurate record of the content of the interview
- potential disadvantages include:
- they can malfunction or be tricky to use, batteries can go dead, disk or memory sticks can be blank when you go to retrieve the info recorded
- some subjects view recorders as intruding in intimate interview situations, and they provide permanent, undeniable records that threaten them with unknown future consequences.
- it takes time to review a lengthy recording to locate facts, reactions, and ideal quotes


Conducting the Interview:

Note Taking

guidelines to follow:
- reduce interviewee fears and objections by explaining why the recorder is useful to the interviewee, why you want to or are required to use it, how it will be used, and offering to turn it off when desired.
- reduce mechanical difficulties by testing the recorder before the interview
- be familiar with the recorder and practice it with simulated interview settings
- research appropriate state laws before using a hidden recorder or recording interviews over the phone. the law generally allows one party to record a second party (no third parties) without permission, but 12 states prohibit the recording of convos without the consent of both parties: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington. 24 states have laws about the use of hidden cameras
- ask permission before recording an interview to avoid possible lawsuits and to establish goodwill.
- set ground rules with the interviewee ahead of time such as wearing a microphone, having a recorder nearby, looking at the lens of the camera instead of the light, limiting background noise, speaking loud enough for the recorder, etc.


Handling Special Situations:

The Press Conference

- this is unique in that several interviewers are involved simultaneously and the interviewee determines the purpose, subject matter, time, place, length and ground rules for the interview.
- press conference may be called with little warning and offer minimal indication about what will be addressed.
- it's likely to start with a prepared statement or presentation ad then go to q's form the interviewers present.
- ground rules may include which topics or issues are off limits to questioning, whether answers may be quoted and the interviewee cited, and whether only background or unattributed materials can be used in your report of the conference
- if you have little notice of a press conference try to determine from your records and experiences and contacts with other sources which issue or topic is likely to be covered and the interviewee's position
- the result might be a simple interview guide. try to prepare some q's in advance knowing that some may prove to be irrelevant, declared off limits, or asked by other interviewers.
- if the interviewee likes and trusts you, you may be chosen to ask the first question or be one of a few who are recognized during the q period. and vice versa


Handling Special Situations:

The Press Conference

- the interviewee controls the press conference
- always be on time and make yourself visible by sitting as near the interviewee as possible and in the center so you are less likely to be overlooked during the questioning period.
- be close enough to hear what is said and any possible whispers between the interviewee and aides.
- note what is said and what isn't said in the statement and in answers to questions
- be aware that your purpose and that o the interviewee may not only be different but also at odds
- the interviewee may want to use the situations and interviewers for self-promotion of a new product, public relations, free advertising or to place a positive spin on an issue or action and want you to do the same.
- your job is to get the truth of the matter and to cute through the smoke and mirrors presented in statements and vague generalities, allegations and unsupported claims and answers.
- the interviewee needs you and this gives you some control of the situation.


Handling Special Situations:

The Press Conference

- don't be intimidated by the situation or status of the interviewee.
- it's your job to ask tough q's of the most powerful people in our society.
- once the question period begins, it is likely to be a free-for-all with raise hands, interviewers jumping to their feet, and shouted q's.
- ask your most important q's first bc it may be the only q you get to ask.
- it's unlikely that you will be able to probe into answers
- you may ask a double-barreled question in effort to get two answers in one.
- you may not get to your prepared q's, and this can be an advantage
- listen carefully to answers to other interviewer's q's for valuable info and a follow-up you might ask.
- your best q's may be aimed at clarifying or getting new info from these answers or the interviewee's statement.
- remember the interviewer questions need not be on topic of the press conference
- protocol allows the interviewee or the staff member to end the press conference whenever and without warning to possibly avoid or escape unwanted exchanges and issues.


Handling Special Situations:

The Broadcast Interview

- outside forces influence broadcast interviews
- being familiar with the physical setting can eliminate many surprises
- this type of interview poses unique challenges for both parties
- it may be on a real or figurative stage in which both must engage in "performing" for outside forces such as a live audience, viewers and listeners that may constitute a "three way interaction"
- this virtual third party may cause nervousness and lead the interviewer and interviewee to adapt questions and answer to it.
- the interviewer not only needs to attain answers and reactions but also sound and pictures that plays well on the air.
- the interviewer may be live or pre-recorded and, if live, anything can and frequently does happen
- no do-overs in live broadcasting and interactions may be in full view verbally and nonverbally of those who have tuned in
- interviews may take place in the field or in studios and the interviewer and interviewee may be in separate locations many miles and time zones apart.


Handling Special Situations:

The Broadcast Interview

- practice and simulations in pre-recorded situations that emulate the real thing followed by a thorough debriefing will help you determine what you did well and where you need more practice
- do your homework by knowing who you will interview, when, where and be familiar with the setting such as the seating for the interviewer, technicians and other support staff, audio and video equipment, etc.
- when necessary and possible, test out equipment
- pay close attention to time limits, opening and closing signals, microphone use and camera locations
- help the interviewee make the interview a successful interaction for both parties by briefing the person or group in advance of what is expected during the interview
- explain ground rules such as wearing a microphone, having a recorder near, looking at you rather than the camera or broadcasting staff, speaking loud enough to be heard easily, and if more than one interviewee is present, the importance of only one person speaking at a time.
- caution the interviewee about content or responses that may result in negative reactions from third parties


Handling Special Situations:

The Broadcast Interview

- the "staging" of the broadcast interview is critical to its success
- the interviewer and director will determine the framing of shorts, whether the interviewer or interviewee will face the camera left or right, eyelines, whether shots will be mid-shot, media or close ups, and whether to select a sequence of shots
- other decisions involve lighting, props, background (not dark clothing on dark background, not overly busy background), and limiting noise such as shuffling papers, heating and cooling systems, bell towers, nearby interactions and foot traffic.
- far more complex than a simple face-to-face interview
- as you conduct the broadcast interview, make it seem that the interviewee is conversing only with you by maintaining eye contact and taking only limited and necessary notes.
- let the recorder to its job.
- put the interviewer at ease from the start, perhaps by some informal convo before the broadcast begins
- open with easy first questions, preferably open-ended if time allows
- deadlines and time limits may dictate that q's be direct, to the point and moderately open
- the live interview may last no more than seconds or a few minutes and allows little time to ask challenging q's


Handling Special Situations:

The Broadcast Interview

- ask q's and don't make statements, your job is to get info not to give it
- know your q's well enough to ask from memory or a few small notecards to make the interview look and sound spontaneous and professional
- you want to avoid "dead air space" for any length of time but you also must tolerate silence that gives the interviewee time to think and answer your q's
- avoid to sin of jumping in too quickly with another question
- you must be persistent in getting at the information you need, particularly when an interviewee is purposely being vague or evasive or by answering a q you did not ask
- there is a big different between tenacity and incivility
- interviewers should be aggressive but with charm - sparks
- no matter how civil and charming you might try to be, some interviewees and their advocates will accuse you of bias and rudeness
- strive to make the interview worthwhile for the interviewee by showing respect and making your q's relevant and neutral
- pay close attention to the interviewee's physical and mental well-being by detecting nervousness, anger, confusion and emotional reactions
- it may be time for a break or to draw the interview to a close
- sometimes utterances and actions cannot be broadcast or may be embarrassing, such as profanities, obscene gestures, poor grammar, too many "uhs" "you knows" "know what I means" and excessive blood or gore
- some newspaper reporters, when being crowded out by cameras and microphones, shout obscenities to shut down their electronic counterparts and get closer to the action
- a state legislator told one of the authors that he would purposely insert profanities into answers to prevent reporters from using them on air


Handling Special Situations:

The Videoconference Interview

- becoming increasingly more common as a means of communicating long distances quickly, efficiently and inexpensively
- share similarities w/F2F interviews, but there are differences

suggestions for videoconference interviewing
- hesitate slightly before asking or answering q's bc there is typically a slight delay in receiving the audio and video
- look straight into the monitor or camera so you appear to be looking into the interviewers or interviewees eyes
- focus on the interviewer or interviewee so you can become comfortable with the video interview situation
- avoid excessive motion or stiffness so you appear relaxed and enjoying a pleasant conversation
- speak naturally without shouting bc the microphone will pick up your voice and you need not lean into the microphone to be heard
- show energy and enthusiasm through your voice and face, such as smiling, bc you will appear as a "talking head", no more than from the waist up
- wear solid and neutral clothing; plaid, stripes or white shirts and jackets make it hard for camera and interview parties to focus
- avoid distracting noises such as tapping on desk, moving papers, jewelry, etc. glittery jewelry may catch light and be distracting also
- always smile bc you will talk F2F.


Handling Difficult Interviewees

- informational interviews delve into feelings, attitudes, and reasons for actions and may hit raw nerves, evoke reactions ranging from tears and hostility to an interview
- the settings of disasters, crimes, election defeats, losses in sporting events, memorial ceremonies, deaths and scandals are tense, emotional and embarrassing
- be prepared to handle difficult interviewees in difficult situations
- if we aren't proficient at asking the right questions at the right time, we'll miss on accuracy, fall short on context, and stumble on fairness - journalist Bob Steele


Handling Difficult Interviewees:

Emotional Interviewees

- silence is often better than talk with emotional interviewees
- ppl may burst into tears during an interview
- the problem is not helped when an interviewer blurts out "I just want to know how you feel"
- tactful and sincere reactions such as the following may help: It's okay to cry, Take your time, Do you need a few minutes?
- remain silent until a person regains computers and is ready to continue.
- if you have a close relationship with an interviewee, you may hold their hand or place an arm across the shoulder as a comforting gesture
- be sensitive to those that have experienced tragedy by not invading their privacy for pictures or tearful comments for news broadcast.
- how you broach a sensitive topic at a sensitive time is a serious ethical issue for informational interviews
- reporters are notorious for asking thoughtless questions like "how do you feel about your child's death" "is the family devastated by the tragedy?"
- only ask direct and necessary q's; remember ppl in crisis situations are under a great deal of stress. a prolonged interview won't provide additional info; it will only upset ppl
- the dangers of insensitive interviewing were illustrated when an CNN interviewer grilled the mother of a missing boy on national news - she challenged her alibi demanding to know where she was at the time, what she was doing, why she wasn't providing specifics. shortly after the interview, the mother committed suicide.
- local media speculate that the CNN interviewer had pushed her over the edge
- treat others as you would like to be treated


Handling Difficult Interviewees:

Hostile Interviewees

- large male interviewers often appear threatening to interviewees
- determine if hostility is real or imagined. if it is real, discover why. a person may feel angry, depressed, helpless or frightened bc of circumstances beyond his or her control, and you become a convenient target for prying into and releasing feelings.
- hostility may be toward you, your organization, your position, or your profession. bad experiences with interviewers, particularly ones in your org, may lead an interviewee to expect the worst from you
- the person may simply be having a bad day bc of traffic, a headache, a computer glitch, late appointment, etc.
- a nondirective interviewing approach such as the following might reveal the source or cause of hostility: you appear to be very angry this morning, you seem very upset, i detect hostility; would you like to talk about it?
- you may avoid hostility by not making unwarranted demands, invading a person's territory or personal space, or allowing your physical presence and manner to appear threatening
- don't intentionally or unintentionally mislead the interviewee ab who you are, what you want, how you'll use it, and whether they'll be identified in story/report
- don't use antagonizing words; substitute better sounding words for potentially antagonizing soundings ones
- use neutral, open-ended q's
- use silence to allow the interviewee time to explain or blow off some steam
- proceed to a new topic
- treat the average person with respect and he/she will do the same.


Handling Difficult Interviewees:

Reticent Interviewees

- be prepared for the "silent types"
- if a person appears unwilling or unable to talk, discover why.
- they may be inhibited by you or your position, the situation, the topic, surroundings, ppl, or lack of privacy.
- many are reticent around authority figures, supervisors, investigators, and journalists
- reticence may be a personal trait that has nothing to do with the interview and can't be altered during the interview
- use conversation starters by asking about pictures, awards, arrangement, furnishings, etc.
- begin with easy-to-answer questions on not-threatening topics
- become less formal. if open q's do not generate in depth answers, use closed questions (and inverted sequence) until the party is ready to talk
- use silent and nudging probes. realize that no tactics can get some reticent ppl to talk openly and freely; they simply don't talk that much


Handling Difficult Interviewees:

Talkative Interviewees

- controlling talkative interviewees may be more difficult than getting reticent ones to open up.
- if you think a reticent interview is touch, meet the talkative interviewee.
- some ppl love to talk and can do so at length without taking a breath
- they give lengthy answers to highly closed questions and seemingly unending answers to open question. they want to be helpful to a fault
- use targeted, closed q's that give talkative interviewees less maneuverability and more direction
- look for natural openings or slight pauses to insert a q to redirect an interviewee
- I'm glad you mentioned that. Tell me about..
- Speaking of that, what are your plans for..
- That is interesting, now what about..
- Let's turn your attention to..
- avoid awkward interruptions by using signaling that you need to move on: look at your notes, lead forward, nod your head to say that's enough, stop taking notes, glance at your watch, etc.
- telephone and other electronic interviews pose problems bc you have few nonverbal signals to halt answers, so interviewees may give long, rambling answers
- be tactful and sensitive in using NV signals


Handling Difficult Interviewees:

Evasive Interviewees

- discover why a person may be evasive
- interviewees may evade q's that require them to reveal feelings or prejudices, make them take stands, give specific info, or may incriminate them in some way.
- evasive strategies include humor, fake hostility, counter q's, ambiguous language, rambling answers, etc.
- ppl maybe quibble over the wording of q's or the definitions of key words
- a common tactic is to counter a question with a question, perhaps involving the question onto the interviewer
- well, how would you answer that?
- what do you think we should do?
- tell me about your private life...
- interviewees may answer a q not asked but one they want to answer
- be persistent in questioning to deal with evasive interviewees
- repeat or rephrase a q
- laugh and continue with question
- go to other q's and come back to that one later
- resort to leading or loaded q's to evoke meaningful response


Handling Difficult Interviewees:

Evasive Interviewees

- an interviewee may be dishonest so listen carefully to answers to determine if they square with the facts from your research a previous interviews.
- pay attention to NV cues to detect dishonesty but be aware that clever respondents know how to appear honest, including excellent eye contact
- when an interviewee says to be honest or to be perfectly candid the hair ought to stand up on the back of your neck. almost always these phrases are followed by fibs
- lie detectors is a 50/50 proposition even even for experienced investigators
- interviewers should look for clusters of behavior, which cumulatively reinforce deceptive behaviors unique to the person being interviewed.
- NV behaviors include fidgeting feet, increased eye contact, rapidly blinking eyes, leaning away, irregular breathing, folding arms, interlocking legs, lack of gesturing and finger pointing
- verbal cues include "text bridges" such as "I don't remember" "the next thing I knew" "after that"
- stalling tactics may include asking an interviewer to repeat a question or using phrases such as "it depends on what you mean by that" "where did you hear that" "can you be more specific?"


Handling Difficult Interviewees:

Confused Interviewees

- be understanding, helpful, and adaptive to confused interviewees
- ppl may be confused by topics or questions, particularly in tense situations.
- be prepared to handle confused ppl without embarrassing them or creating hostility.
- restate or rephrase a question tactfully. return to the question late in the interview.
- be conscious of jargon and similar sounding words.
- be careful of your nonverbal actions.
- broadcast journalists who get strange responses rarely exhibit a smile or shock when they happens.
- they go on to the next question or topic as if nothing embarrassing has happened.


Handling Difficult Interviewees:

Dissimilar Interviewees

- gender and cultural characteristics are generalities and may not apply to a particular interviewee.
- adapt carefully to interviewees who are dissimilar to you.
- observer interviews in the media to see how interviewers deal with interviewees they clearly don't like such as a person convicted for molesting kids, a terrorists, a corrupt CEO, etc.
- there are important communicative characteristics unique to male and females and different cultures
- gender differences are important in informational interviews
- men tend to talk more, monopolize convos, make more direct statements, answer questions with declarations (while women tend to answer questions with questions), get to the point sooner in answers, and respond to questions with minimal response (yeah, nope, fine, okay, sure)
- elderly respondents may be less trusting bc of experiences and insecurity, but are often communication starved and may be very talkative in interviews.
- interviewers may stereotype ethnic groups and expect them to act in a certain way during interviews
- on the other hand, interviewees may stereotype interviewers bc of their ethnic backgrounds or the org or professions they represent.
- interviewees may have developed solidarity through in-group codes, symbols, expectations, and enemies that outsiders neither share nor understand.
- African-Americans prefer indirect q's, consider extensive probing to be intrusive, and prefer more frequent and equal turn-taking
- Mexican-American respondents rely more on emotion,, intuition, and feeling than midwestern European-Americans
- persons of rural backgrounds value personal know-how skills, practicality, simplicity ad self-sufficiency more than those of urban background
- adapt your q's and structure to different interviewees and be aware of gender and cultural differences that may motivate interviewees and explain the answers you receive.


Closing the Interview

- close the interview when you have the info you need or your allotted time runs out.
- if the person has agreed to a 15 min interview, complete within this time or prepare to close the interview.
- do not ignore time limit or press for additional time.
- the interviewee may grant additional minutes when you signal that you time is up or you obviously need only a few more minutes.
- if they appear reluctant to expand time, close the interview positively and arrange for another appointment
- clearinghouse probes are good to be sure you have asked for all the important info
- the most thoroughly prepared interview may missing something important that did not occur to you before or during the interview
- show appreciation for the interviewee's assistance.
- make the closing a dialogue with the interviewee, not a monologue in which you recite a prepared closing statement.
- the interviewee must be an active party from opening through closing
- make sure you understand the info you obtained; can reproduce names, titles, dates, quotations, facts, and statistics accurately; and you can interpret attitudes, feeling, and beliefs as meant by the interviewee.
- the interview is not over until both parties are out of sign and sound of one another
- an interviewee may relax and be less on guard when the interview appear to be coming to an end and reveal important info, insights, feelings, some of which may alter your understandings and impressions established during the body of the interview
- some of the best stuff you're going to get will come in the last few mins when you're wrapping up, packing up stuff and getting ready to leave
- always observe and listen


Preparing the Report or Story

- make it a habit to check all sources
- final stage of informational interview is to prepare the necessary report or story
- review info and observations obtained to see if you have the information necessary to satisfy your purpose
- remember interchanges, reading notes, listening or viewing recording. sift through hundreds of thousands of words, statements, facts, opinions, impressions to locate what is important to include in your report or story.
- check answers with other sources, especially if there is a reason to suspect that an interviewee gave inaccurate info
- critical decision is what to include and not to include
- if the interview or press conference covers several topics or raises a number of issues, you must decide if your info warrants several stories or one lengthy one that covers all or several of them
- the time and space you have to report are key determiners
- include important announcements, revelations, denials, quotes, stories, sound bites, and changes in label.
- once you know what you have obtained from the interview stage, editing begins
- look for grammatical errors, mispronounced words, slang, vocalized pauses "uh" "you know"
- preface answers and q's so readers and listeners will have a clear understanding of each.
- edit q's to make answers more pointed and meaningful
- make quotes accurate
- don't put words in interviewees mouth
- be sure proper qualifiers are included
- don't overstate or understate opinions, attitudes, intentions and commitments
- q's and answers should be reported in proper context


Preparing the Report or Story

- remember ground rules agreed to and what info is "off the record"
- be careful of assumptions
- strive for accuracy and fairness in every fact and interpretation
- check carefully all sources and reports
- arrange information in order of importance
- use quotations to enliven and support the story or report
- include several points of view to achieve balance


The Interviewee in the Probing Interview

Do Your Homework

- get to know the interviewer as well as the interviewer knows you
- become thoroughly briefed on topics that may come up, including recent events, accidents, controversies, innovations, decisions and laws
- check orgs to be sure you understand organizational policies, positions and involvements and what authority you have to speak for the organization
- learn anything available about the interviewer including age, gender, ethnic group, education and training, special interests, and experiences.
- what are the interviewer's attitudes towards you, your organization, your profession, and the topic.
- some interviewers will have little to no knowledge or expertise on a topic while others have engineering, management, economics, law, etc.
- what is the interviewer's reputation for fairness and honesty
- what questioning techniques do they tend to use
- observe interviewer in action by watching the person reporting on news shows, reading print reports and reviewing story angles the person likes to take.
- interviews often take place without warning; when this happens, be sure the opening reveals the identity of the interviewer, the interviewer's org, length of interview, info desired, how info will be used.
- a thorough opening, including small talk, orients you about the topic, purpose, and relationship and gives you time to think and prepare answers strategically


The Interviewee in the Probing Interview

Understand the Relationship

- appreciate the impact of upward and downward communication in interviews
- the relationship between interviewer and interviewee is a major concern in informational interviews bc one or the other is likely to be in a superior position.
- this upward and downward communication may lead either party to be overawed by the other.
- feelings of subordination, obligations, flattery may lead you to answer any questions asked, particularly in the presence of cameras, microphones, technicians or audiences
- determine whether to speak to a particular person at a particular time.
- realize that refusals of interviews may lead interviewers to state at a later date that you were unavailable or refused to talk to them, which may imply guilt
- assess the relationship between parties prior to the interview for indicators of what might take place during the interview
- what is your relational history?
- how similar are you?
- how willing are both parties to take part?
- how much control will you have?
- do the parties perceive one another to be trustworthy, reliable, and safe?
- try to understand the relationship prior to the interview


The Interviewee in the Probing Interview

Be Aware of the Situation

- assess many situational variables that will impact the interview
- be aware of the interview situation, particularly if it is a broadcast interview.
- be familiar with media format, and how you might help my providing good visuals.
- if the interview is not "live" you should pretend it is bc your interview might be picked up by the interview or other media outlets.
- there is no substitute for practice, rehearsal, role playing to prepare you for a broadcast interview
- dress for the camera, appear to be excited and engaged, be animated bc body language enhances your voice, credibility expertise and authority, keeps your eyes on the interviewer rather than the camera
- consider establishing ground rules such as time, place, length, which topics are off limits or off the record
- be realistic in demands - if you demand that all important topics be off limits, then there is no interview
- you may request to see q's occasionally, so you can prepare well-thought-out answers with accurate and substantial details
- how much control you have depends up your importance as a source, your relationship with the interviewer, the situation, and how eager you are to serve as an interviewee


The Interviewee in the Probing Interview

Anticipate Questions

- be as prepared to answer as the interviewer is prepared to ask
- anticipate q's and think through possible responses
- increasing number of interviewees are undergoing training in how to handle questions
- what might be the most important info to conceal?
- how should you qualify answers?
- how might you reply to q's that you cannot answer bc of lack of info, need for secrecy, protection of sources, etc.


The Interviewee in the Probing Interview

Listen to Questions: Listen and Think before Answering

- fully engage the brain before opening the mouth
- it's easy to make statements you soon regret, especially when put on the spot at scenes of accidents, crimes or controversies
- Blacks and Hispanics are often accused of crimes they didn't commit bc interviewees claim to see a black or hispanic man in the area where the time took place.
- false statements and reports may lead to lawsuits, reprimands, or embarrassment
- listen carefully to what is being asked, listen for words you know and do not know or may misinterpret
keep two pieces of advice in mind:
- keep it simple (particularly in broadcast interviews that operate under tight deadlines and think in terms of 2-3 min segments and 7 second sound bites)
- if you don't know an answer, DON'T try to make something up


The Interviewee in the Probing Interview

Listening to Questions:
- Be Patient
- Focus Attention on the Question of the Moment
- Concentrate on the Interviewer and the Question
- Don't dismiss question too quickly

- do not assume you know a question before it is completed. react only after fully hearing and understanding each question. do not interrupt the interviewer
- do not continue to replay a previous answer that is history or anticipate a future question bc you will fail to hear the current question
- watch for NV signals that complement the verbal and reveal the interviewer's feelings, attitudes and beliefs
- focus eye and ears on the interviewer.
- this is particularly important in broadcast interviews that involve several ppl, studios, cameras, monitors, microphones, and field interviews that involve spectators, noise traffic and distracting objects
- the interviewer may have a very good reason for asking a q and it may be one in a series leading up to a highly important question. an interview ma be using an inverted tunnel sequence and you will get to respond in length later on in the interview


Answer Strategically: a good answer is precise, carefully organized, concise, clearly worded, logical, well supported, and to the point.

Avoid Defensiveness or hostility

- give answers not sermons
- give reasons and explanations rather than excuses
- be polite and tactful in words and manner
- use tasteful appropriate humor
- do not reply in kind to a hostile question


Answer Strategically:

Share Control of Interview

- insist on adequate time to answer questions
- don't allow the interviewer to put words in your mouth
- challenge the content of q's that contain unsupported assertions or inaccurate data or quotations
- if a question is multiple choice, be sure the choices are fair and include all reasonable options
- ask the interviewer to rephrase or repeat long, complicated or unclear q's
- answer a question with a question
- search reflective and mirror questions for accuracy and completeness


Answer Strategically:

Explain What You're Doing and Why + Take Advantage of Question Pitfalls

- preface a lengthy answer by explaining why it must be so
- explain why a question is tough or tricky
- provide substantial explanations for why you must refuse to answer a q or simply say "no comment"
- rephrase a question "if what you're asking is..." "you see to be implying that..."

- reply to the portion of a double-barreled q you remember and can answer best
- answer a bipolar q with a simple yes or no when it suites you
- reply to the open or close portion of an open-to-closed switch q that is to your advantage


Answer Strategically:

Avoid Common Question Traps + Support Answers

- if a q is leading such as "don't you agree that..." do not be led to the suggested answer
- be careful of loaded q's and that a yes or no will make you guilty "are you still cheating on your exams?"
- answer bipolar q's with opposing choices with a third option
- watch out for yes-no pitfalls and answer or refuse politely
- use stories and examples to illustrate points
- use analogies and metaphors to explain unknown or complicated things
- organize long answers like mini-speeches with an intro, body and conclusion


Answer Strategically:

Open Answers Positively Rather Than Negatively

- you failed to notice
- you neglected to mention
- you overlooked the fact
- you missed the point

- may I point out
- We can also consider x, y, z
- one additional fact to consider
- from another perspective



- info interview is the most common type of interview bc it is used on a daily basis by persons ranging from journalists, police officers, and health care professions to students, parents and professors.
- length and formality vary, but the purpose and method are the same: to get needed info as accurately and completely as possible in the shortest amount of time.
- the means are careful questioning, listening, observing and probing
- although preparation of an interview guide or schedule is important, the interviewer must remain flexible and adapt to each interviewee, situation and response
- guidelines for structured informational interviews call for thorough preparation and flexibility
- the nature of each stage depends upon the situation and the relationship btwn interviewer and interviewee
- interviewees need not to be passive participants in informational interviews
- when given advance notice, they should prepare extensively.
- they should share control with the interviewer and not submit meekly to whatever is asked or demanded.
- they should know the principles and strategies of effective answers.
- also, good listening is essential.