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Expert Interviewing Techniques

Once you’ve been interviewing for some time, you may decide to pick up some expert techniques that will help you master the craft and get the most out of your interviews. Here are some expert interview techniques:

Make occasional small talk, some of it slightly funny or self-deprecating, in order to put the source at ease.

Importance Rules

Use nonverbal communication techniques to put your source at ease. In person, you can open your posturing, lean toward a source, and maintain eye contact. On the phone, you can encourage the source to speak by saying “fantastic,” “how interesting,” “uh-huh,” “um,” “yes,” “aaah,” and even by occasional chuckling.

Show measured emotion during an interview—empathy, concern, and interest. For example, if a source tells you that a family member recently died, it’s good to convey empathy and provide some measure of condolence.

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Provide measured praise, but don’t butter up a source. Praise a source only if you truly believe the source deserves praise and your praise won’t detract from your source’s objectivity; remember that you’re a journalist, not a groupie. Alternatively, your source may not appreciate undue flattery that’s insincere—few intelligent people like sycophants.

Concluding Remarks

In a weird way, interviews can be cathartic for a source. A good interviewer is an observer who is genuinely interested in the thoughts and feelings of others. This interest can appeal to a source and can cause a source to unload their concerns on the interviewer

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