Interview technique

As part of my ongoing series “Things That Are Harder Than They Look”, I now present Module 8: Interviewing People. Many (many) years ago I briefly worked for the worst publication in Sydney and quite possibly the world. It was a freebie listings sheet called On the Street, which was evidently where the owner had picked up most of his staff. I remember conducting a survey one boring afternoon and discovering that only half of those present were “confident” or “very confident” that they knew what day it was. Don’t get me wrong, nice people and all. But you shouldn’t come to work drunk, much less drunk and drugged up and severely depressed. Anyway, the lack of coherency and in some cases clothing among the regulars meant that any old tosser who happened to be standing around – me, for example – was occasionally sent out to interview bands and comedians and so on. The first time it happened I was dancing on the spot with excitement. My big chance! I felt like hugging the editor – think stick with a beard – as he wished me luck and tried to remember the word “dictaphone” (I think he went for “tapey-tapey” in the end.) The band I was to interview had been formed about a week previously and were keen to advertise the fact that they were almost definitely getting a gig in a local pub soon. In the interests of brevity I will present everything I learned about interviewing that day in bullet point form: 1) Make sure you switch on your tapey-tapey. Don’t just put it out on the table and smile like you do this all the time. 2) Find out the name of the band well in advance. Don’t have that as your first question. 3) Think of other questions in advance too. Don’t end up sighing and terminating the awful silence by asking them if they like being in a band. 4) Take written notes (see point 1) so you don’t end up having to more or less make the whole thing up when you get back to the office. Interviewing. I’m telling you – harder than it looks.

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