On Interviewing


Here are a dozen doís and doníts:


  1. Do as much research as you can before you start your interviews.
  2. Decide whom you wish to interview and in what order. (Tip: the most important interviews should be done last).
  3. Write out your questions ahead of time and in the order you think they should be asked and never start out with a big, important question. Ease the person into the interview in a conversational way.
  4. Make an appointment to do the interview.After introducing yourself, explain briefly what story you are working on.
  5. Ask all the questions you have written out but be alert.Youíll find that added questions often will pop into your mind as the interview unfolds.
  6. Be sure to have enough paper and pencils or pens.
  7. Use a tape recorder when appropriate and ask permission to use it.Donít totally rely on the tape recorder.Be on the safe side.Take notes.
  8. Be a good listener, but donít let the interviewee ramble.Try to draw out specifics:How much, how long, when, etc.
  9. Make mental or written notes about the person (gestures, mannerisms) and the place (color, size, decorations, furniture, etc.).
  10. Exchange contact information in case either of you wishes to contact the other at a later date with new, added or corrected information.
  11. Donít forget a photograph.If you are having someone else take a picture at a later time, make the arrangements at the end your interview.
  12. While the interview is still fresh in your mind, go to a quiet place to review and reconstruct your notes.


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