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How to conduct an interview: tips for youth journalists Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Ha Thi Lan Anh, Canada Jul 9, 2002
Citizen Journalism   Opinions
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Hi! I just finished a media skill share workshop online. One of the things I did at the workshop was help the participants out with some tips on how to conduct an interview. I think it can be of interest to some of you guys.

To make this easy for the participants to follow, I divided the Tips in 3 parts.

<> PART 1 : Preparation Before The Interview
<> PART 2 : Conduct Interview
<> PART 3 : What Next After The Interview

Although interview techniques are quite the same, different people have different interview tips. So these are what I've learnt after trainings and many interviews that i conducted. I guess you guys have your own tips too that I'd love to know. So please share!! =)

So here go the tips...

Ask Yourself : What? Why? Who? When? Where? How?

Before an interview, make sure you are well prepared. How to know if you are well prepared? Easy!! Ask yourself the 5 W’s and 1 H question. (Thats what I always do and it works. I hope it works with you too!)

1. What is the interview for? You should already have a vision of your story prior the interview:

- What the major topic and a story mapping do I have in mind? (ie : a peace campaign of an organization, how a young people who become a youth biz ;the lives of kids on the streets etc). When you have a topic in mind and a story mapping, you will have a route for your questions to flow out and be focused.

- What the appearance of my story’s going to be on media? (as a feature, a news story, an interview, an opinion piece.). The story will be on TV, radio, newspaper or newsletters.

- What kind of media am I going have my story on air? (women magazines, youth TV channel, school newspaper..) This is important! You will have to use different kinds of equipments for your interviews because each type of media requires different technical standards (ie: if you work for radio then you have to record the voices and sounds very clearly, loud enough…But if I write a story for a newspaper then I just need to record normally so that I could play back and listen later to get information, ..)
- What do I know about the interviewees and their expert fields? Have some backgrounds, basic facts of whom you will talk to. If possible, do some research on people, orgs you will interview on previous articles, internet, various sources you can access .If you interview people on issues like economics, technology… you don’t have to be experts in the fields but necessary to know some technique words or some backgrounds of the subjects. Researching will be of great help: you have an idea of why this person, org “worth featuring” and at same time make sure you wont go on same roads but actually cover some NEW things, aspects, angles about them.

- What do I want to know from the interview? New information, details or new aspects, angles on a person, a topic that you did not see in your research and will bring your story into a complete drawing. Make a list of questions you will ask . Keep the questions short, easy to understand and focused.
2. Why

- Why do I interview this or that person or feature this org, event? Think of the reasons that make people you interview “stand out”. When interview them, you will investigate on those reasons and discover them with your questions. You might write about same people, same projects, same orgs, but make sure you have YOUR OWN reasons why you choose interview/feature them! Make your writing new, unique and like no others before!
- Why this person/org story related to the readers?

3. Who

- Who am I going to talk to? Make sure you know names, basic information about person you are going to interview. Contact them to ask for permission for interview. Remember their full names and have their contacts in hand! (it sounds easy but hey its what many journalists forget – just imagine the amount of data, names, events they have to memorize everyday from the news). Think of people that are related to the person you interview or the story you cover. You might want to interview them as well so you can have different reflections/point views on people and event you cover.

4. When

- When should I have the interview? Choose the right time!
+ Check your calendar and set a time suitable for you and your interviewee. Set the time and don’t be late.
+ Check out the time that allows you to have better observation, details for your story. For example: If you write about a Peace workshop at a school, ask the time of the workshop, come to the workshop, interview the kids before and after the workshop.

5. Where

Where can I have the interview? Choose a place and arrange it with the interviewee. A good place is where
+ the interviewees feel comfortable to spend times there talking with you ; respect their choices and privacy.
+ places related to people, orgs, events featured in your story so that you could have an overall picture and more observations

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Ha Thi Lan Anh

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Useful and informative
Md. Akteruzzaman | Nov 28th, 2003
Thanks for good article. I wish to distribute this copy to my friends too. I also learned some tips!

Very useful
Damian Profeta | Mar 11th, 2004
Hey, your article is so clear and useful. I think it should be in Spanish too. I offer to translate it if you want.

Great Job!
Brian Kitchens | Apr 13th, 2004
I used to be a college journalist. One thing I tried a couple times that worked very well at the end of an in-depth interview was to ask the person what quote they would pick out of all the things that were said to include in the article. Both times I asked this the person actually stopped and thought hard for a few seconds and then picked a really good summary quote. I ended up using these quotes both times! Really samed me MUCH time.

so very useful great!
Everistus Olumese | May 31st, 2004
this is really great. I think am going to apply these methods in interviewing people for my magazine. thanks once again . you're best

Charity Fadun | Oct 23rd, 2004
great tips thanks!

Very concise.
Ed Smtih | Aug 9th, 2009
Hi, this was very concise information and badly needed. Thanks for a great job. Ed Smith conductknockoutbroadcastinterviews.com/blog.

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