Interview tips for student journalists
As a student writer, I have done many telephone interviews, including one with Jay Gardner from MTV's Geordie Shore, but I can remember how scared I was when I had to do my first interview.
So, I thought this week's blog post could help other student writers who were uncertain as how to conduct interviews, as although it may seem a daunting prospect, it really isn't! You can even use these tips to help with other interviews, including job interviews.
- Make sure you know everything possible about the person you are interviewing. That includes their personal background, career information and even their ambitions for the future. The last thing you want is to make a mistake and then be corrected, as not only is that embarrassing for you, but also makes it seem like you haven't made much effort.
- Buy a Dictaphone. This is really useful as it saves you from hastily scribbling everything down (which runs the risk of making inaccurate recordings) but you can also get very flustered if you need to constantly ask the person to repeat them self. This doesn't make a smooth or enjoyable interview for both parties.
- Practice, practice, practice! Try and get 20 minutes of quiet beforehand and run through how you would start the interview, the tone of voice you would use or how you plan to end the interview. The more practice you do, the more comfortable you will be when you actually do the real thing!
- Do thorough research for your questions. In order to create interesting and thought provoking questions you do need to spend time researching. You want to squeeze out all the new, juicy information which will help your article stand out, but in order to do this be prepared to spend time preparing. I find it is always best to think of more questions than you will probably use, that way in case the person is very chatty you won't run out of questions.
- Relax! Whilst you will be nervous, try and enjoy yourself as it will come across in your voice if you are tense. Being uptight will also prevent you from effectively following and understanding what is being discussed during the interview, which will make your life so much harder. Be enthusiastic, positive and be willing to go with the flow. You can diverge from your questions, but don't forget you are conducting an interview so it is not just an informal chat!