Eric May – Media Consultant




Getting good results in an interview with anyone

Before the interview: establish trust

Prepare. Respect your interview partner enough to inform yourself about them and the issues.

Share information. Explain the intent of your story as much as possible.

Make your interview partner comfortable with you. Be businesslike, friendly, and open.

During the interview: listen

Listen carefully to what your interview partner says. Then respond with a question. Keep it conversational.

Don’t fire off one question after another or read questions from a list. Use your written questions only if you get lost.

Find the key things that interest you most about the story and ask about them.

Ask the questions your audience would like answered.

During the interview: short and specific

- Specific questions get better answers. 
Avoid “What do you think about...?”
Be specific- “Last week you said... now what do you say?”

- Use body language to show your interest.

Make eye contact.
Stand (or sit up) straight.

- Keep your questions short and clear. Let the answers go long. 
Don’t interrupt. Wait to ask your next question.

- Know when to interrupt (especially with politicians). 
Steer the interview back to the main topic.

- If a subject evades a question, ask it again immediately, 
rephrasing it if necessary.

- Try silence: ask your question, get an answer, then wait. 
The silence is sometimes filled by something unexpected.

- Before ending the interview ask, “is there anything we haven’t talked about?”

The best interviewers:

Persuade people to trust them and talk to them, even if it isn’t in the person’s interest to do so.

Make an interview a conversation, not a tennis match.

Ask questions their audience would ask if they had the chance to.

Know their material and ask questions they would like to know the answer to themselves.



Good interviewers respect their interview partners.

Ask: if the story were happening to a member of your own family, would you do the interview the same way and put it on the air or online?