There must be an art to interviewing that I just do not understand. During these past few weeks I have interviewed a fair amount of people, for both my Journalism and Documentary Classes. Many of the people I interviewed were students, which I thought would be easy. I was wrong.
Besides the fact that the students often did not take me seriously, they also did not listen carefully to the questions I asked. I found myself repeating the same questions over, receiving off topic answers. I also had trouble getting longer answers out of the people I interviewed. Many answers basically just repeated the part of the question they agreed with, and not adding their own opinion at all. I realized this was partially due to the questions I asked. I often gave the interviewee room to simply answer “yes” or “no.”
Once I adjusted my questions I started to receive longer answers, but still they often went off topic. Fixing this required more effort on my part, yet again. I realized I was not listening carefully enough to how the interviewee was responding. I started to pay closer attention and found that I could pull new questions out of their responses. These questions helped the conversation curve back to the main topic, while still letting the interviewee talk openly.
Interviewing is still very difficult for me, although I feel that with more practice I could maybe start to master this art.
Written by: Greg Borowiak