One of my assignments in Non-Fiction this year is to interview someone I don’t know. Ultimately the interview will form the basis of a feature article to be submitted not only for assessment, but for publication.
We’re getting briefed on the assignment in class today – hopefully this will spark a few ideas as to who would make a good interview target.
Even though I’m generally a pretty outgoing person (friends will have coffee spurting out of their noses at this understatement) , I have to admit I’m a little nervous about the idea of conducting a formal question and answer session with a stranger, with a tape recorded whirring away capturing every awkward moment.
The best interviewer I’ve ever seen is Andrew Denton, who is an Australian media personality. He has a weekly chat show (Enough Rope) and his feature interviews generally last for 30 minutes or so. What strikes him apart is
(a) his research;
(b) his listening skills and ability to pursue an interesting chain of thought rather than sticking to the scripted questions;
(c) a lightning sense of humour; and
(d) genuine empathy for his guests.
I guess that’s something I will be trying to keep in mind when I stammer out my first question.
Any suggestions on potential subjects to interview – remember I’m based in Melbourne, Australia – or stories about your own interviewing experiences would be gratefully accepted.