04 Interview

1. Interviews are the attempt to get closer to the truth. Never be content until you have opened the door to truth a little bit more, until you have learned something that was not known like this before.

2. Interviews are never just about plain facts, but about opinions and judgements. Pure „knowledge interviews“ appear amateurish, bloodless and overloaded with information. You need interpretations and motivations.

3. The more controversy the better is a basic rule for any interview. Don´t ask for figures and numbers, ask for conflicts. You may be honest to your interview partner about this. This way the interview will be like a sporty challenge.

4. Controversy without knowledge is impossible. Only if you know in detail what it is all about, you can correctly analyse the answers and react spontaneously. Someone who has no background can not ask the right questions.

5. Opinion as such has no value – everybody has one. But: not everybody has an opinion which is worth publishing. A loud and distinctive opinion of one of the protagonists, of someone who points out clearly and unconventionally what many people think is an eye-catcher.

6. Find the right person to interview. Most people are able to give some kind of interview, but the first person you ask is seldom the best and the best is seldom available first.

7. Ask what you are really interested in. What the interviewer doesn´t want to know, the public usually wants to know even less. Show your commitment by using your voice, through eye contact and body-language.

8. The Interviewer determines the language spoken: Who asks animatedly, interrupts friendly and criticizes with humour, creates a lively and easy conversation.  Long questions usually provoke long answers. Short questions are followed by short answers. Asking good questions generally means just asking short and clear questions.

9. Making a good interview is all about asking follow-up questions. The biggest mistake is not being persistent enough. Have the courage to ask intimate things or put uncomfortable questions to people with power. Never let the interviewee get away with a nebulous answer because of a false sense of shame.

10. Leading the conversation is asking with a goal in mind. Interrupt if your interview partner is waffling. Ask critical follow-up questions to get more focused answers. Don´t let yourself be fobbed off with evasive answers. For a journalist control of the interview is practically a basic right. Don´t allow anybody to take it away from you. Who asks leads.

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