Thoughts on interviewing

Among the items I brought home after being downsized was a file folder titled “Questions.”

As a reporter for a weekly newspaper for more than two decades, I asked a lot of questions. In recent years, I usually prepared for interviews by jotting notes on a post-it or a piece of notepaper, but in earlier years – especially for business or celebrity interviews – I often printed out a list of typed questions.

I learned so much by asking questions – not just factual information, but life lessons, and the type of things that make people tick. Often one person’s story can provide insight into larger societal issues.

A good interview isn’t just a series of questions and answers. It has elements of a conversation, give and take, and follow-up questions.

Looking through the interview questions that I kept, I recall the preparation that went into some of them, particularly with high-profile interviewees. Often, I had little previous background knowledge about their areas of expertise – classical music, agriculture, archeology, business.

When I was in Grade 6, my teacher had us prepare for a project by making two lists: “What I know,” and “What I want to find out.” Preparing for an interview wasn’t much different.

One of the things I found out is that, no matter how much I know in advance, there’s always more to find out.

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