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Interviewing Techniques

HyperWrite's Interviewing Techniques Study Guide is your comprehensive resource for developing and refining your interviewing skills in the field of journalism. This guide covers the key concepts, strategies, and best practices for conducting informative and engaging interviews.

Introduction to Interviewing Techniques in Journalism

Interviewing is a fundamental skill for journalists, as it allows them to gather information, insights, and perspectives from a wide range of sources. Mastering interviewing techniques can help you uncover compelling stories, build trust with your interviewees, and create engaging content for your audience. This study guide will provide an overview of the key concepts and strategies involved in effective journalistic interviewing.

Common Terms and Definitions

Open-Ended Questions: Questions that encourage detailed responses and cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no".

Closed-Ended Questions: Questions that can be answered with a simple "yes," "no," or other brief response.

Follow-Up Questions: Questions that build upon the interviewee's previous responses to elicit more information or clarification.

Active Listening: The practice of fully concentrating on and comprehending what the interviewee is saying, while providing verbal and nonverbal feedback to demonstrate engagement.

Off-the-Record: Information provided by the interviewee that cannot be directly attributed to them or published without their explicit permission.

On Background: Information that can be used in the story but not directly attributed to the interviewee.

On-the-Record: Information that can be directly attributed to the interviewee and used in the published story.

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Types of Interviews

In-Person Interview: An interview conducted face-to-face with the interviewee.

Phone Interview: An interview conducted over the phone, often used when in-person meetings are not possible or practical.

Email Interview: An interview conducted through a series of email exchanges, allowing the interviewee to provide written responses to questions.

Video Interview: An interview conducted using video conferencing tools, such as Skype or Zoom, which can be useful for remote interviews or multimedia storytelling.

Preparing for an Interview

  1. Research your interviewee and the topic thoroughly.
  2. Develop a list of open-ended questions that cover the key points you want to address.
  3. Organize your questions in a logical sequence, starting with broader topics and narrowing down to more specific details.
  4. Anticipate potential follow-up questions based on the interviewee's possible responses.
  5. Choose an appropriate location and time for the interview, ensuring comfort and minimal distractions.
  6. Test your recording equipment (if applicable) and bring backup supplies.

Conducting the Interview

  1. Begin by establishing rapport and explaining the purpose and format of the interview.
  2. Ask your prepared questions, but be flexible and allow the conversation to flow naturally.
  3. Practice active listening and use follow-up questions to clarify or expand upon the interviewee's responses.
  4. Be respectful of the interviewee's time and comfort level, and avoid pressing for information they are unwilling to provide.
  5. Take notes and/or record the interview (with permission) for accurate reporting.
  6. Conclude the interview by thanking the interviewee and discussing any next steps or follow-ups.

Common Questions and Answers

How can I make my interviewee feel more comfortable during the interview?

Begin with casual conversation to build rapport, and express genuine interest in their experiences and perspectives. Choose a comfortable setting and maintain a respectful and non-judgmental tone throughout the interview. Be clear about the purpose and intended use of the information they provide.

What should I do if an interviewee refuses to answer a question or becomes defensive?

Respect the interviewee's boundaries and avoid pressing for information they are unwilling to share. Try rephrasing the question or approaching the topic from a different angle. If the interviewee remains uncomfortable, move on to another question or topic. Remember that building trust is essential for a successful interview.

How can I ensure the accuracy of the information I gather during an interview?

Take detailed notes and/or record the interview (with permission) to ensure you have an accurate record of the conversation. Ask follow-up questions to clarify any ambiguous or contradictory statements. After the interview, verify key facts and figures with additional sources or research. If necessary, follow up with the interviewee to confirm the accuracy of your reporting.

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Developing strong interviewing skills is essential for success in the field of journalism. By understanding the key concepts, strategies, and best practices outlined in this study guide, you will be well-equipped to conduct informative and engaging interviews that yield valuable insights and compelling stories.

Interviewing Techniques
Master the art of conducting effective interviews for journalistic purposes
What are some strategies for asking effective follow-up questions during an interview?
Listen carefully to the interviewee's responses and identify areas that require clarification or elaboration. Use open-ended questions that encourage the interviewee to provide more detail or context. Ask for specific examples or anecdotes to illustrate their points. Be prepared to deviate from your planned questions if an unexpected but relevant topic arises.

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