Ten Stages of Interviewing

From: Ken Metzler, professor emeritus, author of Creative Interviewing.

(1) Definition of purpose (Know what you want and you're halfway there)

(2) Choice of respondent (Knowing who has the answers).

(3) Pre-interview research

(4) Planning your interview

(5) Making an interview appointment

(6) Meeting-greeting your respondent/preliminary (icebreaker) conversation

(7) Getting down to business - your first planned questions

(8) Reaching a friendly conversational rapport, like old friends talking

(9) The "bomb." Potentially embarrassing questions - to be handled carefully

(10) Ending the interview - watch for the "afterglow effect"

Pre-interview checklist

1. Have I made the purpose of my interview clear-both to myself and to my source? (What do you really want from this interview and how eager are you to obtain this information? The more specific your purpose and the more apparent your enthusiasm, the more likely you are to gain cooperation.)

2. Have I made it clear (to myself and to the source) why I want information from this particular individual? (The source may be flattered to be singled out.)

3. Have I eliminated my own pre-conceived biases and removed my emotional barriers to communications?

4. Have I done preliminary research on the person and topic to be discussed--read things about him/her, done preliminary interviews so that I can develop new areas of inquiry?

5. Has my research included preparation for "small talk" or "icebreaker" kinds of commentary? (e.g., reviewing news accounts of recent Supreme Court decisions when preparing to interview a lawyer.)

6. Before requesting the interview, have I prepared a few "sample" questions cold-bloodedly calculated to be both provocative and ego-reinforcing?

7. Am I prepared to use my listening "down time" effectively? (Your mind runs 3 to 4 times faster than people's speech so that you can tune in and out of the conversation. You can make effective use of the "non-listening" time to evaluate what is said, make comparisons with other data, take notes, and to think up new questions.)

8. Am I (or will I be by interview time?) well rested, well nourished, sober, with all mental faculties alert so that I can catch the fine nuances of meaning or things left half-expressed or even unsaid-in short, ready to listen between the lines?