How to make an interview not so awkward

As a reporter, it’s crucial to interview people and sources for your story. Wait…what? I actually have to meet face-to-face with a stranger in order to write a story? Ugh. Do I have to?

Sometimes, these same thoughts run through my own brain. Some days, I would rather just email or text someone. But as a journalist, I’ve learned that interviewing is not something that should be dreadful. Rather, it’s what makes the story what it is.

Here are some reasons you might have a slight fear of interviewing:

  1. Talking to someone you don’t know. If you’re an introvert, then you can most surely relate to this. It can be scary meeting up with someone you’ve never met before. One thing to remember is that the person you’re interviewing probably has the same feelings as you. Is it uncomfortable at first? Yes. Can it be awkward? Yes, but only if you make it awkward.
  2. It’s awkward. Going off the last point, another point to remember is that if anything is awkward, it’s probably you. If you haven’t prepared questions and thought about how you want the interview to go, it’s probably not going to go well. This is the main reason people bomb interviews and are left with an awkward silence or a lot of “uh’s.”

Kyle Mooney gives us a good run down of what NOT to do  and just how awkward an interview can be if you’re not prepared.

  1. They won’t give you the answers you want. (In other words, they’re boring). You’re after good quotes, right? But what if someone is quiet, short and doesn’t provide you with anything interesting? This can be frustrating to you as a reporter. In this situation, there’s nothing you can really do. You can’t make their words more interesting. My best advice is to ask them for their email, so you can follow up with any further questions you may have. This will also give them an opportunity to think more about their answers and write them out on paper. Some people may even prefer this option, but you want to try and avoid email interviews.

Interviewing is essential to reporting and can lead to super interesting conversation and stories.  Remember, don’t be nervous, be yourself and be prepared. You never know what someone may tell you, so be attentive and have fun with it!

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