How to interview almost anybody for fun and profit

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After last week’s posts about the deception, plagiarism and Wikipedia editing conducted by Johann Hari (see Johann Hari’s apology is a “lesson in cynicism” and And another quote about Johann Hari), it’s beneficial perhaps to remember that the vast majority of journalists aren’t actually venal, immoral, plagiarists and phone-hackers.

Jason Arnopp has been interviewing people for so long that he reckons he’s amassed over 1,000 subjects in his 23-year career. And now he’s decided to write his own, self-published ebook full of interview technique tips.

Thankfully (because he’s a mate and it would be really embarrassing if it was awful) it’s good. Really good.

Titled How To Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne And Everyone Else, Arnopp distils his knowledge into a series of easily digestible chapters. As well as talking about how to deal with (and, if possible, resist) PRs’ desires to sit in on an interview, he looks at several interview archetypes – the runaway train, the politician, the clam, etc. – how to recognise them, and how to adapt the situation to ensure you have the best possible chance of getting a good interview feature out of your meeting.

But it’s not just about the meeting itself – preparation is key, as is how you present yourself upon meeting your interviewee, how you deal with interviewing by phone or email rather than face-to-face. All scenarios are presented and discussed in Arnopp’s easy-going style. A lot of the time, you’ll read what he says and think, “Of course – that’s just basic common sense.” That’s the hallmark of a well-written instructional book. To get the best out of it, of course, you can reassure yourself that you’re going about things the right way, but also acknowledge where you have bad habits that get in the way of turning your good interview into a great one.

The book is available in Amazon’s Kindle format – free apps exist for iPhone and iPad if you have those, and there’s also a web app version if you don’t have the requisite handheld device. Alternatively, you can order a PDF version direct from the author (scroll down to the PayPal link).

At £3.90 it’s a snip, and if you ever interview people for print or web, it should be an essential part of your reading list.

How to interview almost anybody for fun and profit5Scott Matthewman2011-09-27 12:32:49

After last week’s posts about the deception, plagiarism and Wikipedia editing conducted by Johann Hari (see Johann Hari’s apology is a “less…

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Scott Matthewman

Formerly Online Editor and Digital Project Manager for The Stage, creator of the award-winning The Gay Vote politics blog, now a full-time software developer specialising in Ruby, Objective-C and Swift, as well as a part-time critic for Musical Theatre Review, The Reviews Hub and others.

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