I have interviewed many people on the radio over the years. This past week seemed to be one interview after another. I absolutely love interviewing people and getting to know them. I have learned so many things over the years by talking with people on many different subjects. However, I still struggle with the interview process. Sometimes I fail as an interviewer and I always ask myself, how could I have asked better questions?
I have had some memorable interviews. Some went really well and some didn’t. I remember well interviewing Senator Amy Klobucher for the very first time. It was a number of years ago and I have interviewed her many times since. She was in Madison at Lund Implement. Maynard, my boss told me to go out to Lunds and see if I could get an interview with the senator. I didn’t have any time to prepare. While driving out to Lunds I started getting really nervous. I usually don’t get nervous, but I’m thinking she’s a US senator! She talks to the national press all the time. What if I ask a stupid question? Fear started to set in.
I had never met Senator Klobucher before, I listened to her little speech inside of Lund Implement about small business problems in rural Minnesota. After she was done, she mingled with the owners and employees and other people. How am I going to get an interview with her? I have my recorder in my hand ready to pounce when the opportunity arises! She has her entourage with her and they begin to leave. As she goes outside to get into her vehicle. I shout out “Senator Klobucher, I’m from the local radio station can I get a short interview with you?” To my surprise, she smiles at me and says “Absolutely!” Well that was easy. The interview went well, even though I’m sure she saw my hand shaking holding my recorder because I was so nervous. After it was done, I thought I had asked good questions and she made me feel like we were sitting in my living room just talking and having a conversation. The last time I interviewed her she called me by my first name. I thought that was pretty cool that she remembered me. Afterwards I got in my car and remembered I had a name tag on. Oh well!
I think in the last five days I have interviewed over thirty high school student/athletes. Now interviewing high school kids is a challenge to start with. I have done it enough over the years that I know what type of questions to avoid. Like questions that will get you a yes and no answer. That comes from experience.
Interviewing people is really an art. I always try to follow these guidelines. Make the person feel comfortable. Do your homework! Ask open ended questions. Allow for silence. Don’t interrupt and listen, listen and listen! So the next time you hear one of my interviews on the radio, feel free to critique me.