After nearly two years of attending Metropolitan State University of Denver, where I majored in journalism, I avoided any writing that involved interviewing. Since I’m a shy person by nature, interviewing people meant talking to people and these people would expect me, as the interviewer to know what I was doing. So, because I didn’t know how to interview and because I was, quite frankly terrified of interviewing, I kept my writing life easy and just didn’t offer to write any articles where an interview would be needed.
At the end of my sophomore year, I learned that if I wanted to progress as a journalist, I needed to stretch myself, to go beyond my comfort zone. I felt more comfortable interviewing people than I did prior to that.
Here is what I have learned when it comes to comfortably and confidently interviewing sources:
1. Do Your Research/Go Over Your Notes
I think it’s very important to take a few minutes prior to your interview and re-read your notes and your questions. Focus your mind on what you aim to achieve from the interview.
2. Be Organized
Do be prepared to vary from your list of questions in the light of what you learn during the interview. If your interviewee says something you want to know more about, then ask them about it.
3. Speak Clearly
Take a deep breath when beginning the interview, speaking slowly, clearly and confidently. I’ve learned that most people are happy to be interviewed and keen to get their point of view across.
4. Respect Other People’s Opinions
Being polite and neutral is the key in my opinion. You are not there to judge the person or their opinions. Just talk to them, ask them your questions and respond to their answers. If you start or become antagonistic you are not going to get the information you need.
5. Be Polite
Thank the person for their time at the end of the interview and if possible, let them know when and where the story will be published.
Also, it’s important to write a thank you note to the person you interviewed to thank them for their time. It always pays to be courteous to interviewees, because you never know when you’ll need to interview them again
This article originally appeared on Medium
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