Sunday, January 10, 2010

Post 1070 - How To Conduct An Interview, The Bevboy Way

This is a variation of a presentation I gave at Toastmasters the other night.  I present it because... well, I want you to see how I do these things.



The Professional Seminar

By: Bev Keddy

January 6, 2010

Key Points

Be curious and genuinely interested in the person and topic. You can’t fake sincerity!

Educate yourself on the topic and the person you’ll be interviewing. Devise simple questions based upon your research.

Voice questions clearly and with friendly confidence.

Be yourself.

Oh, listen, won’t you? Listen and look for follow-up questions. They can be the best part of your interview. Say things like, “What was that like?”, or “Tell me about that.”

You’re the boss. Control the interview! Let the person roam, but rein him in if necessary.


This seminar will show you how to conduct an interview. I will discuss how I approach them, how I come up with questions and how I actually do one. As an example, I will sit down with Kirk Furlotte and briefly interview him.

Afterward, I will have you break up in groups of two, as best as possible, and interview each other for 5 minutes. After that, I will have each of you stand up and say one thing you learned about the other person. I will entertain any questions you may have for a couple of minutes. Then, I will wrap things up and yield control to the Toastmaster of the meeting.

Any questions? Cool. Let’s get started!

Do you want to know how to interview someone? It might be an older relative who has all kinds of juicy family secrets. It might be someone you’re interested in romantically. It might be someone who’s applied for a job with you. Or, maybe, you’ve got a blog like... oh, I don’t know... Bevboy’s Blog, and you spend an awful lot of your leisure time interviewing people for it when you should be spending that time fostering personal relationships.

I started doing interviews for my blog in April of 2008. I have long been fascinated by the medium of radio, and decided it would be interesting to approach some of my radio friends and interview them. My first interview was with Deb Smith, then of the late and lamented CJCH and now part of the afternoon drive team on C100 FM.

The first few interviews were not very good. I made plenty of mistakes. Plenty. But, gradually I got the hang of it. I have been told I am becoming a very good interviewer. I have been lucky enough to interview Pat Connolly, Don “Trigger” Tremaine, Nikki Balch at Z103.5, Ian Robinson and so many others. Denyse Sibley of FX 101.9 opened up to me in unexpected ways when she spoke of her angst about returning to that station when she was very happily employed somewhere else.

Whenever I run into Ian Robinson, he tells me that he thinks I may have a book here. Maybe he’s right. Other jocks have kept in touch with me, and they have become my friends.

The approach I have developed over the past couple of years is one I devised via trial and error, and not codified until today. But it represents how I approach interviews. It has been successful for me, and I feel it can be successful for you as well. I am happy to share it with you this evening.

Here’s what you should do, or be, or have:

Be curious and genuinely interested in the person and topic. You can’t fake sincerity.

Look for follow-up questions. An off hand remark from your subject may take the interview in an interesting and unexpected direction. Let that happen, as long as it does not stray too far from the topics you want to discuss.

Devise brief, simple questions open to interpretation. Ask these questions with what I call, “friendly confidence”.

Listen, listen, listen. Smile. Say things like, “Tell me about that”, or “What was that like?”

Have fun. Be yourself.

Research your subject.

Control the interview. You’re the boss.

Roll with the punches. You never know where the interview is going to go.

If will not do to sit there and write down everything the person says. You will miss so many of the verbal and facial clues the person can offer. Invest in a digital voice recorder like mine. It actually records in stereo! It is small and unobtrusive and can capture up 138 hours of audio. I carry it with me where ever I go. It is the third such recorder I’ve owned, and the most expensive by a wide margin, but I love it.

But, enough about me. I want to talk to my friend Kirk.

Earlier today, I emailed these questions to him so that he could think them over. He will answer these questions to the best of his ability. We will time this to 5-7 minutes.

Kirk? Get up here!
Sample Interview

Kirk Furlotte

1. As a boy, what did you want to be when you grew up? To what extent does that initial interest mesh with your current reality?

2. I first met you 9 years ago when you visited us as a guest to this club. To what extent do you think you have developed and changed as a person during that time? Did TM play any role in this development?

3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

4. What is your greatest unfulfilled ambition?

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