Archive for the ‘interview’ Tag

How to Ask Questions That Get Honest Answers

Working as a news reporter for the past four years, I’ve learned a lot of valuable techniques for getting the best responses in an interview.

Of course no two interviews are going to be the same because no two people are the same. A method that gets the best answers from a philanthropist may not be the same for a business executive.

But here are seven universal tips that will help you get the most honest answers to your questions.

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Why I Don’t Read (or Post) Interviews

An interview is a journalist’s and a blogger’s most important tool. The most common advice I’ve heard from reporters is to “talk to people.” And while the interview is necessary, showing it to your readers is not.

I’m noticing a trend among blog authors who conduct an interview and then post the entire transcript. In reality, about 90 percent of content in interviews is worthless.

Sometimes the subject answers questions with vagueness. Sometimes you’ll just get the company jargon for most answers. And some of the worst interview offenders will ask questions like, “What’s your favorite flavor ice-cream?”

No interview is going to be perfect, which is why it’s the reporter’s job to dig through the mess and pick out what’s important, clarifying the points that need elaboration.

Just about the only times you’ll see an interview transcript published in The New York Times is when it’s with vice-president of the United States. Even the TV news networks will edit their interviews down to the┬árespondent’s most interesting responses.

So bloggers: Don’t be lazy. Talk to as many people as you can and put together a post with some substance. No one cares if Bill Gates eats Cherry Garcia on his day off.