INTERVIEWING for most people is all about going for a job and being grilled about your suitability for it.
For journalists, interviewing is different. It’s how you get your information for an article and a chance to discover a fresh angle if it’s someone used to being interviewed.
Whoever it is, you need to do your homework first. It’s not only rude to the person you’re interviewing not knowing about them and their achievements but it’s dangerous ground.
Without knowledge, you flounder, ask inane questions to try and fill information gaps and show a lack of respect for your interviewee.
It’s vital to ask telling questions here. If you’re interviewing a celebrity or top business person, you may have only a very short time allotted. An experienced interviewee may try to fob you off with bland statements, not really giving you new or interesting information.
It’s our job to come up with fresh ideas, find what the interviewee really thinks about his or her field, new developments, the wider world and what interests them.
Their career is a good area so ask about possible highlights so far, dream jobs, who they admire, seminal moments in their life and carer etc.
If it’s a celebrity on a promotional tour for a film, book or show, ask about their favourite moments or characters, how relevant the work is to modern life, what’s coming up next for them.
Ensure you answer the Who? What? Why? When? Where? and How? basics always but substantially build on this. Notice things about them. Do they bite their nails? Are they twitchy or calm? Use your observations to build a genuine impression.
The key with celebrities, though, is not to be over-awed – although, as a very young reporter, Jimi Hendrix did have me gaping a bit!