"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, April 1, 2016

Asking and Avoiding

The majority of comments left on my blog and sent to me by private message over the last week were ASKING that I spend the "A to Z" challenge discussing interviewing - how I teach interviewing, my favorite interview subjects, what I've learned, ones that have inspired me personally, etc. 

When I teach interviewing I always stress the importance of ASKING questions. After all, the whole purpose of an interview is to gain knowledge. There are two basic ways to ASK for information:

1)      Closed – ended questions usually only have one word answers – yes or no.
 “Do the people who work here have specific job duties?”
“Is that pro scout checking out players?”
 “Are you aware that regulations have changed?”
2)      Open – ended questions can have many answers and allow for flexibility, or elaboration.
“What are some of the job duties required to work here?”
“What qualities does a pro scout look for in an athlete?”
“How are regulations changing this year?”

Notice that I’m dealing with the same topics in those questions, but ASKING using open-ended wording will help lead my subject to provide me with more information.

In addition to asking the right type of question, you want to AVOID:

1)      Superficial questions – be direct – “What is fair about…?”
2)      Negative questions – “Don’t you think…”

Both superficial and negative types of questions can feel accusatory or biased and is less likely to leave your subject wanting to share. Remember, you want your subject at ease and ready to talk. It’s your job to keep them comfortable and relaxed.

Do you have any questions about interviewing? Certain topics you are hoping I’ll cover, or people I’ve interviewed that you want to learn more about? Feel free to ASK in the comment section below!


i b arora said...

great tips

Stacey Minter said...

Thanks for sharing. Great tips. Have a great weekend.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Smart to ask questions that lead to more than one word answers.

Rajlakshmi said...

Very informative. I would keep this in mind when I am interviewing next :)

Visiting from A to Z Challenge
Pam's Unconventional Alliance Team
A Whimsical Medley
Twinkle Eyed Traveller

Nuvofelt said...

Good advice. What a very useful post.

Visiting from A-Z Challenge

Karen Baldwin said...

Good tips to know even in conversations with people you're just meeting.

Yolanda Renée said...

I used to host a blog talk radio show where I interviewed authors about their books. Sometimes it was a pleasure because they just loved to talk, time flew by, and I'd barely begun asking questions. But other times, I'd ask all 100 questions and still have time left on the clock. How they did it, answer with one word - I'll never know. LOL

Good advice! Happy A to Z-ing!

Thank you for posting for the A to Z!
Ninga Minion @YolandaRenee from
Defending The Pen
Murderous Imaginings

The Silver Fox said...

This is going to be a really instructive A to Z. Thanks for that!

Jessica Ferguson said...

Brilliant, Sylvia! Interviewing can be tricky. ;)

Sylvia Ney said...

Thanks for the support! I always enjoy the A to Z challenge, and I look forward to visiting each of you.

Elizabeth said...

This is good advice not just for interviews, but in conversation. I need to learn to ask more open-ended questions. You picked a great informative theme!

SENCO Cat Herder said...

As a teacher, asking the right questions is a very important part of finding out how your lessons are progressing, which parts the children understand or don't and I'm always keen on students asking questions back too. Once again a very helpful topic as interviewing is so difficult to get right so I will be following along :)
A Stormy’s Sidekick
Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

Michelle Wallace said...

Open-ended questions are good to get people thinking...
Thanks for the tips.
Writer In Transit