IV. ON THE AIR

Interviewing

  • Interviews need a narrative structure with a beginning, middle and end.

  • To make the narrative flow, anticipate how you’ll navigate from one idea to the next.

  • Once the interview begins, listen for surprises. If you've done your prep, you won't need to be thinking about your next question.

  • Listen for the listener and provide regular recaps of guest and topic.

  • Don't be a verbal listener - "uh huh" is very annoying and detracts from the story. Use non-verbal cues to indicate your attention to your guests.

  • You have to be able to ask difficult and challenging questions and the un-answered questions the rest of the media won't cover. The audience expects it.

  • Every interview should answer the central question listeners have: “Why?”

  • Keep questions short. They keep the conversation moving.

  • Ask only one question at a time.

  • Make sure a question is really a question. A statement with an upward inflection at the end is not a question and should be avoided. “Could you talk about that?” does not turn the statement into a question.

  • When a guest starts talking in the abstract, a good question to ask is "Give me an example."

  • A simple and effective follow-up is simply, "And then?"

  • Listen for cues that will carry the narrative forward, and provide your next question. For example, pick out the most interesting word in their last answer like "inevitably?"

  • Ask leading questions, including the answer in the question.

  • Have quotes handy to pull out during interviews. But keep them short.

Other advice on interviewing is offered in KUOW’s Interview Tip Sheet and Capital Public Radio’s Insight Interviewing/Hosting 101.

 

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