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Using Different Approaches for Different Kinds of Interviews

Adopt an Easygoing Style for Some, a Businesslike Tone for Others

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Using Different Approaches for Different Kinds of Interviews
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Just as there are many different kinds of news stories, there are many different kinds of interviews. It's important to find the right approach, or tone, depending on the nature of the interview.

So what kind of approach should be used in different interviewing situations?

Conversational and Easygoing

This approach is best when you're doing a classic man-on-the-street interview. These usually involve talking to the kind of average people who can get very nervous when approached by a reporter. A friendly, conversational tone will help them feel at ease. In other words, make the encounter feel like more like a chat than an interview.

All-Business

This is best when you're interviewing people who are accustomed to dealing with reporters, people who often have little time to waste - cops, prosecutors, public officials and the like. They know the drill, so you don't have to worry about making them comfortable. Just get to the point. Be respectful and business-like.

Tactful and Sensitive

This is best for interviewing sources who are in difficult circumstances: a person who has lost a loved one, someone with a serious illness, people who have experienced trauma of one sort of another. The rule of thumb here: Imagine how you'd want to be treated in this situation, and treat them accordingly. And take it slowly; you can't rush interviews like these.

Tough and Adversarial

This approach is reserved for people who are being evasive and who often have something to hide - the crooked politician caught stealing from the town treasury, the greedy CEO who plunders his company for his own gain, the serial killer - you get the idea. Interviews like these are probably the toughest to do; the reporter must hold the person being interviewed accountable for their deeds, or misdeeds, as it were. Extensive preparation is required for these kinds of interviews.

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