Friday, January 30, 2009

When A Good Interview Goes Bad

J. Chad Barnett, Contributing Writer

Conducting interviews can be a memorable experience for any sports writer. What fan wouldn't want to meet and talk to the players that they look up to and idolize? Just like everything else, however, interviews can also go horribly wrong, or become very awkward.

Since everyone is different, there are no set-in-stone rules for conducting an interview. There are a few guidelines to follow to help make things run a little more smoothly though.

  1. Be on time. Realize the importance of an interviewee's time. They may be giving you an hour or so of their day, but the rest of the day is packed full of other appointments, etc. So when you are late or try to take longer than they have allotted, things could take a turn for the worse.

  2. Be prepared. Make sure you research who it is that you are interviewing. This is also a good way to come up with the questions that you will be asking. Be sure the questions are relevant. Nothing makes an interviewee more upset, than talking about something in their past when it isn't relevant to the course of the interview.

  3. Don't get intimidated. The best way to do this, is to not look at your interview as anything other than a conversation. Talking to people, and getting information from them is part of human nature. When calling a friend or relative, usually the first question is, “How/What are you doing?” Just because you may be interviewing someone like Tiger Woods, he's still a person, so why not start off the conversation the same way? The more comfortable you make them feel, the easier it is to get them to open-up to you.

The main thing to remember is that YOU are the one in control. The moment it becomes evident, that they are trying to take over, you must reassert yourself immediately or lose control for the rest of the interview.

I'll leave you with this. There are good interviews, and there are bad interviews. The only thing to take into account, is that no matter which one you find yourself in, it will be remembered one way or the other. So I would try to make at least most of them good ones. Common sense, right?

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