The art of the interview

As my first proper exercise out in the journalism field, my partner and I went out to interview students and staff around the University on Friday. Relating to the recent cold snap that has been embracing Britain, we were assigned to interview as many people as we could to find out how they were coping with the weather. Whilst going out in the sub-zero temperatures was not a pleasant experience, I found the actual assignment to be quite enjoyable!

The first thing I’ve learnt whilst interviewing people is to not wait for them to come to you. As an example, we waited for a member of the cleaning staff to finish cleaning. In the time that we waited another team of interviewers walked right up to him and asked if he minded answering a few questions. We just stood there feeling a bit timid and not much like the investigative journalists we started out as. So after the other team was done, we decided to just go up to whoever we could and politely ask if they would mind answering some questions. If I could do it again, I would have just gone straight up to him. If he had said “No” then we could have easily moved on to someone else. Have some conviction when approaching people for interviews.

The second thing I learnt was to rehearse what you were going to say to the interviewees. Being the bumbling person I am sometimes, I forgot to mention that I was a journalism student and that I was just doing an interview assignment. Nothing to be printed and no intimate details to be released. I think some became a little confused as to what we were doing and some did not like the thought of being in a printed article. I should have just stated my name and what my partner and I were doing. It probably would have saved a lot of questions and a lot of rejection.

Apart from the small hiccups we encountered during the interviewing, I think the exercise was very beneficial. They say that journalism is a competitive field of employment and I can see why! Asking people if they liked the cold felt a bit stupid as they shivered in the smoking area covered in hats, scarfs, gloves and thick woolly cardigans. However, it seems as though the art of the interview is all about self-confidence, explanation and good people skills. If you don’t have the courage to go up to a stranger and ask questions then you can never be part of the journalist profession. The experience did help me realize that after the first interview, you start to build up more conviction. The fears of walking up to strangers disappears after a few tries. The final lesson is to not lose your temper if someone says “no”. We approached a few people who said they did not have the time or that they were running late to a class. At first, it did worry me and I took it to heart a little. If this happens, you just have to carry on and ask even more people. Think of it statistically, the more people you ask; the higher the likelihood that someone will stop and answer your questions.

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4 Responses to “The art of the interview”

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