A friend asked me the other day if I miss interviewing. Sometimes I do, but not as much as I thought I would. I’m happy to be writing my blog and my book, neither of which calls for interviews at this point.
There wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy about interviewing, though. My job was never boring. Over the 22 years that I worked at The Canadian Jewish News, I interviewed a wide range of people including celebrities, architects, rabbis, students, professors, schoolteachers, authors, artists, centenarians, and community leaders. Many were from Israel or other countries. I learned a little about a lot of things, and in many cases more than a little.
I liked preparing for interviews. The process, for me, was basically what my Grade 6 teacher expected as our first step when we worked on school projects. She had us make two lists: “What I Know,” and “What I Want to Find Out.” I always enjoyed the challenge of coming up with questions that I thought other interviewers might not have asked.
I liked the actual interviews, and the interview process too. A good interview is like a conversation in many ways, but it also has structure and a logical end. I would begin by asking how much time the person had, and try to pace the interview accordingly.
And while I usually had a list of questions, there were many others that weren’t on my list – follow-up questions seeking clarification or more information. It helped that I was genuinely interested in what people had to say. My husband used to hope that I would get a sports-related interview, to pique my interest in that area too!
When I wrote up my interviews – unlike my blog posts – I worked from notes, and sometimes from an audio recording as well, especially if the subject of discussion was controversial, or if the interviewee spoke quickly. For me, it was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, taking the most relevant and interesting pieces of the interview and fitting them together in a way that made sense.
Sometimes I thought about the interviews long after they were over. I still think about some of them. I’ll have to blog about that another time.