Conducting an Interview

Lesson Eighteen

Interviewing someone you don’t know for the yearbook can be stressful.  The best way to beat this nervousness, and to get an amazing story, is to make sure you are prepared.  Below are a few helpful tips on conducting a successful interview.

1) Do your research.  Learn as much as you can about the person and topic before the interview.  This will save interview time and also give you an idea of what questions you want to ask.  If the interviewee has a certain title they would like to be addressed by (Doctor, Misses, Miss, etc.), you will want to find out before the interview.

2) Write down your questions beforehand.  It is important to have an idea of what you want to ask before you conduct an interview.  This will ensure that you get all the information you need and will provide a focus for the interview.  Preparing written questions beforehand doesn’t mean you can only ask those questions; if you see an opportunity for a good question, go for it!  If you need help writing interview questions, check out Lesson Seventeen – Writing Interview Questions.

3) Respect your interviewee.  When you set up an interview, do your best to schedule a time and place that is most convenient for your interviewee.  Make sure you are there a little early and have everything you need for the interview.  If you are using a voice recorder, ask permission first. Also, don’t push the interviewee to answer questions they are uncomfortable with.

4) Listen more than you talk. The interview should be focused on the interviewee.  After asking a question, let the interviewee tell the full story.  Don’t interrupt or talk every time he/she pauses.  Show you are listening with your body language; nodding and keeping eye contact are ways to show you are listening.

5) Be honest.  Do not put words into the interviewee’s mouth or take his/her quote out of context when writing your story.  You may want to offer your notes over to the interviewee to look at before you write a story to make sure the facts are correct.  It is also important that you have the interviewee sign a release in order to use the interview in the yearbook.  You can find the Staff Interview Log under the Tools section.

6) Show your gratitude.  The interviewee has taken time out of his/her day to answer your questions.  Make sure you thank the person for his/her time and insight.  If possible, send the person a thank you note.  It is beneficial to you to build good relationships with people you may want to interview again in the future; thanking your interviewee is a gesture that will help you build those relationships.

There you have it, folks!  If you practice your interviewing skills with your yearbook advisor or classmate, you’ll be an expert interviewer in no time.  Check out our weekly blog posts for more helpful yearbook tips.