young journalists GUIDE

Pre-Interview

There are many factors that make a Star Reporter capable of hosting a splendid interview. Through
telling your ‘story’ you need to engage your audience by compelling the Interviewee to dig deep and
share the most noteworthy details that will capture people’s hearts. Making the decision of whom to
interview is very important. Ask yourself “why are they the ideal candidate?” Be sure to approach the
potential candidate respectfully and let them know your intentions. Although it is considerate to make
them aware of the subject matter you will be discussing, don’t give away your questions in advance to
ensure that their answers will be genuine, rather than rehearsed. Think of your interview as a guided
conversation, driven by a series of profound and provocative questions.

Once you have identified who you would like to interview and they have agreed to take part, you need
to prepare. Remember to select your subject matter with care. You are not asking them about their
entire life story, but you do want to tell a story from their life. If you want to know the best questions to
ask, then you must research to find out more background information about your Interviewee, as well as
familiarizing yourself with the circumstances you will be querying them on. The more digging you do, the
more apt you are to develop deeper, more significant questions that will enable you to delve beyond the
surface of the true story. Choosing an appropriate location to conduct the interview can also influence
its success. It is important to select a place that will make your Interviewee comfortable. As a Fifth
Street Creative Initiatives Star Reporter it is your duty to make sure that these incredible experiences of
our elders are not lost in the past, but that they are shared and cherished. 

successful communication


Not only is it your job to unveil the story, but you need to present yourself in a professional manner and
establish a good rapport with your Interviewee. Many people have never been interviewed before and
may be nervous to be recorded as they share their story. You must behave with the ultimate sense of
professionalism to make them comfortable so that they will open up and disclose information with ease.
Always remember that you are the Star Reporter! This means that you are in control of the Interview
and you have to stay in control. Just as some people are reluctant, others can be very dominant and will
knowingly or unknowingly begin to steer the conversation. You must be aware of this and take back the
reins gracefully. This is where your diligence and preparation will be a great asset. You are the
Conductor, so conduct!

The so-called bread and butter of a Reporter is your arsenal of effective questions. It’s your job to
pursue the information; this is the key to capturing a story. If you ask good quality questions, you are
likely to get better quality answers. Remember this as you carefully compose your list of questions and
don’t shy away from asking the hard ones. Often the most challenging and uncomfortable inquiries lead
to the most valuable and heartfelt accounts. Be prepared to improvise and respond with follow up
questions to clarify why they stated that or what did they mean by that statement. Do this in order to
encourage them to embellish if you feel that their answers are too brief or if you sense they are holding
back and there is more to the story then they are letting on.

 

Focus on including all six of the Primary
Journalistic Questions:    What?    Why?    When?   Where?   How?   Who?

When composing your questions steer clear of any that can be answered with a simple yes or no. It is
your responsibility to elicit information and remember, although your opinions are of great value, in the

case of an interview you must keep them to yourself. You are the conveyer of the Interviewee’s story;
you may dig into the depths of the information, but you may not weigh in with your judgement.

listening is just as important​

Listening is equally important to the questions themselves. You must be prepared for proper note taking, but recording your interview is the best form of protection. By creating a video or audio recording, you ensure that nothing is forgotten or missed. It also solves the dilemma of miscommunication, misunderstanding or worst of all, the suggestion of libel. Always ask the Interviewee for their consent before you record any conversation. When you begin, it is both wise and professional to have the Interviewee state and spell their name. Place the recording device in an inconspicuous spot
so that it does not become a distraction and please don’t make the amateur mistake of running out of battery power. This however does not eliminate note taking. If you are able, also take detailed notes but create a fine balance so that you are still invested in your Interviewee. They need to feel like you are listening to them or they will close up. This is all part of

the Art of the Interview and we encourage you to practice beforehand so that you can walk into the interview feeling confidant and excited to be a Fifth Street Creative Initiatives Star Reporter.

post interview

Although the act of the Interview is done, your work is far from complete. Now that you have acquired all of this great information, you are now challenged to select the most valuable details and generate a fabulous piece that will inspire your audience; whether it be video journalism or a newspaper article. As you listen to the recording over and over again, ask yourself what you can do differently next time to improve your interviewing skillset. It is a great reference to help you better the quality of your initial planned questions, as well as your improvised follow-up questions. Be sure to reach out to your Interviewee to thank them for their time and participation. It is considerate to provide them with a
finished copy of your piece for their records in whatever form of media you are producing it in. As a Fifth
Street Creative Initiatives Star Reporter, journalistic etiquette is important and should continue right
through to the end of the process.

Thank you and congratulations on becoming a Fifth Street Creative Initiatives Star Reporter! Good luck
with your first interview! We look forward to your submission and can’t wait to share your stories with
the world!