The process of interviewing is not only fascinating to me, but fun. I used to be quite nervous of interviewing others- the typical fears of asking the wrong question, or forgetting what questions you were supposed to ask or just saying something stupid would always create a barrier between myself and the person I was trying to interview. But as the tried and true saying goes, “practice makes perfect,” I began to bury that fear. I still get anxious before interviewing people. However, the more I’ve interviewed people, the more I see just how fascinating every individual is. We all have a story. That boy that sits across from you on the bus and doesn’t seem to talk to anyone? He’s started an organization to help endangered animals, or he’s won the spelling bee, or he’s built his own computer. Often we become so engrossed in ourselves that we don’t see past people’s appearances. But in looking further and asking questions, we can learn so much about others, and ultimately about ourselves.
Interviewing doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, we, fellow new and seasoned journalists, and just about every other person on this planet need to be comfortable with interviewing. These question and answer conversation skills aren’t just needed for writing or filming a piece, but we need these question-asking skills for day-to-day interactions with others. Therefore, we should be excited before and during an interview. In essence, we are uncovering what makes this specific person the unique person that they are: what motivates them to keep fighting for human trafficking rights? Why do they wake up at six in the morning to fit in a surf sesh? How do they balance being an active member of all those school clubs? Why does that woman sacrifice sleep in order to protect the rights of children halfway around the world whom she doesn’t even know?
In interviewing we can learn about the sides of people we may have never been exposed to before. And especially with technology, we can interview people half way around the world just as easily as we can interview people in our neighborhood. In addition to learning about the person we are interviewing, we are also learning about ourselves. How do we react to how the interviewee is responding to our questions? Can we see the passion in their eyes? Sometimes we even find ourselves saying, “Wow this person is so inspiring- I want to approach life the way they do.” Now we can share the inspiring stories of various individuals quickly and in a variety of formats (video, newspaper, magazine, radio, TV, blogs, podcasts etc.).
So the next time you think about your upcoming interview, remember the potential there is to uncover the unique traits of the individual and what you can in turn learn from the interviewee.