Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Five Rules for a Great Interview

In my last blog I talked about my days traveling throughout the Northeast US capturing stories from interesting rural folks. It was a wonderful time in my life and many of those stories and anecdotes remain permanently embedded in my memory. I would never have been able to share those stories with the listeners of RFD Network without adhering to some basic rules. These rules didn't come from a book or a college class. They are MY rules and they worked for ME. As I look back I realized that these basic Jerry Reed Rules of Interviewing can apply to many of life's situations. So here they are:

Rule #1 – Research and Review

Before conducting an interview, familiarize yourself with the topic. If you go into an interview cold with no knowledge whatsoever, it will show. You need not be an expert but should be familiar with terms and have some basic understanding of the topic you are going to discuss. Otherwise, you will find it difficult to move on to the next rule.

Rule #2 – Relax and Engage

For you to have a great interview you and your subject will need to sound relaxed and conversational. I always engaged in an informal short conversation prior to even getting the microphone out of my kit. It helped to make the subject feel comfortable talking with me and it allowed me to gauge how responsive the person will be to my questions.

Rule # 3 – Ask and Listen

For any conversation to be engaging the two people involved both need to listen to each other. The interviewer asks questions and then needs to stop and actually listen to the response. It may take your conversation in a different direction but that's OK. You can always steer the conversation back with subsequent questions, But, if you are an active listener and engage in the conversation, you'll be amazed how smooth the interview ill go. You can edit it later.

Rule #4 – Capture and Record

This can mean an actual recording or capturing the conversation by taking notes. An actual recording is best, in my opinion, even if your end product will be written. That way there's no mistake what was actually said.

Rule #5 – Be Gracious and Thankful

Politeness and being gracious go a long way. You want to leave favorable impression. I always looked at each interview as an opportunity to build a relationship. It may not be a long term friendship but the person you just interviewed is very likely to share that positive experience with others. And that is part of your reputation under construction. Once you conclude the interview, you need to make sure you show your appreciation for the time the subject spent with you. Just say thank you and mean it.  

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