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Interview basics

Fundamental to everything we do

A Farm Radio International Learning Module

Remembers that the interviewer’s job is to inform.  A middle that details all the information necessary to communicate the story. An interview must have a shape  A beginning that sets up the story. Is confident without being aggressive. conversational language. Has direct. Contains stories about real people. with examples and illustrations. introduces the person being interviewed and asks the first question. Is sensitive to language and nuance. questions and answers. not impress. Has a tone that is appropriate for the subject.Interview basics  In this module you will learn: ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ What makes a good interview How to form good questions How to structure an interview The notes to make before an interview What to do at the end of the interview A good interview     Has a clear focus. Farm Radio International Interview Basics 2 . A good interviewer      Knows the story Is in control of the interview.

a final question that sums it all up. resolves the story and points to the future. This encourages a clear. the interview is almost guaranteed to fail Basic steps  The first question is important ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦   Think about the first question and formulate it very clearly before you start the interview. At the end of the interview. to-the-point answer The first question ◦ ◦ ◦ Sets the tone of the interview. the listener should feel that he/she has heard a story. Brings the listener into the story. The importance of a good first question cannot be overstated. It is more than likely the listener will be able to repeat what they have heard. It should be clear and to the point. Stimulates the person being interviewed. Basic steps  Before you start an interview ◦ ◦ Be sure you have established a proper focus for the interview ◦ See the learning module called “Interview focus” for how to set a focus If you are unsure of the focus or reason why the interview is being done.   An end. Questions Farm Radio International Interview Basics 3 .

where. why and how are clean. “What” or “How” are often better first questions. clear.◦ ◦   Interviewers act as surrogates for listeners Who. They let you set the scene for the big question: “Why?”  You have to establish what the person being interviewed did and then “Why?” will complete the story. They let the person being interviewed and the listener warm up. Be aware that if you open an interview with “Why.  It’s somebody doing something for a reason Farm Radio International Interview Basics 4 . “Why” gets at motivation – the reasons which drive the action of the story.” you need to have a plan about where you go from there. simple questions that get to the point For example ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ “What happened next?” or “So what happens next?” “What makes you say that?” “How did you deal with that?” “How did that affect you?” “What do you want?” “What stays with you?” Why? The most powerful question ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Some interviewers like to ask “why” as the first question. when. what.

◦ For example: “Why did you decide to become an undertaker and was it a good decision?” The person being interviewed is faced with a choice and will often avoid the more difficult question.” Ask instead: “How old are you?” Instead of asking “Is the project contributing to conflict resolution in your community?” ask. “How is the project contributing to conflict resolution in your community?” Avoid double-barrelled questions. “You are 40 years old.” you are giving an opinion. Avoid making statements instead of asking questions ◦ If you say. which could derail the whole interview.Formulating questions  Avoid closed or self-answering questions ◦ ◦      To the question. aren’t you?” the only possible answers are “yes” or “no. It reminds him/her that he/she is talking on the radio as a human being. It makes it hard for the person being interviewed to generalize. not as an institution. “That seems to me to be the wrong thing to do. Farm Radio International Interview Basics 5 . ◦ Questions such as “Tell me about your farm” give the person being interviewed a license to say anything in any amount of time. Be specific in your questioning. Avoid making statements with an interrogative tone ◦ For example: “Then what you are saying is that worms are best collected in glass jars?” Use the word “you” or the interviewee’s name as much as possible ◦ ◦ ◦ This underlines that you are talking to a real person.

 Ask the person being interviewed to give examples ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦  This will give the interview colour and imagery It will also keep it from being too abstract and theoretical. Farm Radio International Interview Basics 6 . Interview notes   The success of an interview depends on several things ◦ ◦ ◦ A good focus prepared from the pre-interview or other research. Make sure you probe their answers For example they may say. Sometimes. If you don’t jump in right after the person being interviewed is finished. the better your interview will be. The more specific answers are. If you are going to prepare your interview as a complete package. he/she will give you a better answer when he/she leaps back into it. Use silence effectively ◦ ◦ ◦ You don’t have to jump in with another question right after the person being interviewed has finished answering. The right person being interviewed. your notes should contain: ◦ The focus statement. the person being interviewed will leap in to fill the silence. A skilled interviewer makes a well-prepared set of initial questions.”  What does that mean?  Will it be a longer dry season than normal?  Why is it going to be more difficult?  We need clarification.  “It’s going to be a difficult dry season.

 Your notes should be an interview road map.◦ ◦ The introduction.  Review them before conducting the interview but do not read from them or look at them while you are talking with your guest  You should have both the focus and the basic questions in your mind before the interview begins During the interview  Listen! ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ An interview is a structured conversation. come back to the question in another form  For example “I understand what you are saying. but could you give me some more detail?” The last question  There is one question you should always ask at the end of the interview. The structure comes from your focus and interview roadmap but you must be prepared for possible deviations for which you had not planned A conversation has two partners and requires each one to listen to the answers and comments of the other to get the best results Make sure each answer from your guest addresses your focus in enough detail for listeners to understand If not. The all-important prepared initial questions. “Is there anything you wanted to say that we have not covered?” Farm Radio International Interview Basics 7 . They give directions on how to get from beginning to end in the interview.

you can come back and review this module at any time. Sometimes this is the most important and revealing question in the interview After the questions  When the questions are over ◦ Check your recording to be sure you have good sound  If there is a problem. you can resolve the problem and try the interview again (if your guest is willing) ◦ Complete a log sheet to make a written record of the interview (see the log sheet learning module for how this can be done)  This will be used by others on the production team so they know what you have done Thank you  You have now completed the module “Interview basics”. Remember. Farm Radio International Interview Basics 8 .