Interviewing do’s and don’t every journalist should know

Instead of using her time wisely, she chose to ask questions for which she should have known the answers. She didn’t make eye contact, nor did she follow up on interesting topics.

And worst of all, the number one mistake every journalist should never make, she chose to make up her own information rather than making sure her story was completely factual.

Those were some of the problems the high school students found in a video of dysfunctional interviewing during a session led by Michele Day, director of the Journalism in the Digital Age Workshop and a journalism lecturer at NKU.

In the video I tried to pull out every example of bad interviewing that I could think of,” Day laughed. “What I found really interesting about it, was that the students did such a great job of picking apart everything I intentionally did wrong. They might not recognize the problems if I just talked about tips for good interviewing. But they definitely seem to grasp the problems when they watch them in action.”

Steven Richter, a student who participated in the discussion, absorbed the examples shown within the video.

“In the video I learned how to interview someone more professionally than I did before,” Richter said. “It helped when we had to point out what was wrong in it.”

Five interviewing tactics that students remembered from the session included:

1.)   Always arrive at an interview with a plan and a purpose.

2.)   Don’t be afraid to ask negative questions, as they could lead you to your angle. But be honest and respectful with sources. And get the facts right.

3.)  Listen for follow up questions; don’t always stick to your pre-planned list.
4.   Recording interviews has pros and cons. If recording, make sure to alert the interviewee and always remember to take notes for precautionary reasons.

5.)   Never leave an interview without asking for contact information just in case more questions are necessary. You may even need their assistance with locating other sources.

Madeline Leesman and Isabela Gibson both agreed that the video was the most helpful resource.

“I would say that it is [important] to ask good questions,” Gibson said. “Anybody can ask good questions and come up with questions, but good conversation [and] engaging questions that still get you what you want.”

Day expressed  how important it is to keep your interviewees on your side during the interview.

“She just showed how important it is to be respectful and to not make them uncomfortable with you,” Leesman agreed.