Module JT020


Module author

Joanna Szylko-Kwas

University of Warsaw

Learning objectives

After you have completed this module, you will be able to:

  • Choose the type of interview in accordance with the intended purpose;
  • Prepare for an interview in an effective way;
  • Choose the proper interlocutor;
  • Choose an effective strategy of behavior;
  • Prepare questions that are appropriate to the topic and the invited guest;
  • Respond to different behaviors of an interviewee.

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Definitions
1.1.1 What is an interview?
1.1.2 Types of interviews
1.1.3 Main goals of the interview
1.1.4 Why the interview is one of the most interesting journalistic genres
1.2 A few sentences about the history of interviews—some interesting details
1.3 Features of the interview
1.3.1 The interview as dialogue
1.3.2 The function of an interview
1.3.3 Presentation of the interlocutor
1.3.4 Interview content: current, new and interesting information

Chapter 2: The journalist in the interview
2.1 Tasks for the journalist
2.1.1 The journalist as a host
2.1.2 The topic of the interview
2.1.3 How to find an appropriate interlocutor
2.1.4 Perfect research is very important
2.2 How to ask a respondent
2.2.1 Which question is the most important?
2.2.2 Ask—listen—ask
2.2.3 To obtain a difficult answer
2.3 The journalist's role

Chapter 3: The interlocutor in the interview
3.1. Learning outcomes
3.2. Why an interlocutor agrees to give an interview
3.3. Patterns of an interlocutor's behavior

Chapter 4: Questions and answers
4.1. Questions
4.1.1 Different ways of asking questions
4.1.2 Effective and ineffective questions
4.1.3 Which questions motivate an interlocutor to answer?
4.2. Answers
4.2.1 Types of answers
4.2.2 The journalist's reaction to an interlocutor's answers
4.3. When the interlocutor avoids answering
4.4. The interrupted interview

Chapter 5: The interview in the context of its participants' behavior
5.1 Subjectivism
5.2 Politeness vs. aggression
5.3 Closeness vs. distance vs. irony
5.4 Cooperation vs. competition

Chapter 6: Genres similar to interviews
6.1 Talk show
6.2 Debate
6.3 Breakfast TV

Study points 2
Preview Interviews


Why Open School of Journalism believes that interview techniques are an important journalistic skill

What we are about to cover are the guidelines and principals of a module on journalistic interviews. Speaking to and obtaining information from sources who are either reliable, eager or not must always be done with an understanding of the outcome that a journalist desires. Achieving this will require some practice, attention to details and completing this module will empower all students to find lead sources and to pull valuable information out them—in order to enhance or finish a story concept. 

Knowing how to maneuver through these set of steps within the interview process is what makes top stories great. Those demanding aspects of quality interviews are covered in a concise manner for a full education here. As a journalist, interviewing is a very important process to obtaining necessary and missing details for a story. With the right information, a story seems full and complete while these qualities become absent when key people haven't been interviewed to provide better insight on a given topic. Though it is wholly the responsibility of the writer to research a topic thoroughly, the information that comes from an interlocutor can be based on years of experience that no journalist can obtain through their own research. Furthermore, the journalist cannot relive an event that a source may have witnessed. 

The objective of the writer then becomes that of shedding light on a story by looking at events from the eyes of a person actually involved or from one who is highly trained and specializes in a said area. In this module, students will learn to wholly choose an interviewee and to narrow down the best possible candidates who will cooperate with valuable quotes or perceptions. By being prepared and following the guidelines of this module, every student will be able to organize an interview with the right person and at the right place. 

Information you will obtain during an interview, from the skills set aside in this module, are commonly reached by avoiding closed-ended questions. The source will reveal very little when he or she can answer questions with a, "Yes," or, "No." These questions leave little room for concepts to be elaborated on, and a journalist can even make the interlocutor feel as if they are not taken seriously. In this module, these types of scenarios and mistakes are covered to prepare each student with the right tools for being effective while making interviews and establishing credibility in a story. 

What makes journalistic interviews so unique is the conversational tone during Q&A sessions and the work a journalistic needs to do prior to contacting each and every source. As a ready interviewer, a journalist must be prepared to speak as if a specialist about a topic to ensure the source's confidence about sharing information and about being chosen to provide it. Even so, preparing a list of questions cannot be properly done or executed if a thorough understanding of a topic is not established. The are many steps in the interview process where a journalist will need to be prepared, and those are covered in this module of complete and comprehensive journalistic interviews. 


Importance of interviews

Today, the skills of an interviewer who utilizes the approach of a journalist can be used in many aspects of professional and personal life. Interestingly, there are a fair number of journalism graduates who have not taken classes nor courses on journalistic interviews specifically. In the world of publication, there is simply a small group of journalists who fully understand the requirements of a solid interview and how to choose the right lead. This knowledge is generally absent even though quality stories come from the best methods used when seeking and interviewing key persons. So what this means is that having completed a course unit like this will give those seeking a career in journalism an upper hand on their competitors. Remember, there is no substitute for the valuable information that can be obtained only from people involved in a story who bring skills, understanding and experience to the table. 

In another professional environment, candidates with the outlined skills in this module are more analytical and detailed oriented. Within a workforce, those equipped with these interview skills are prepared to make constant, preconceived inquiries and to speak with others on a conversational basis though potentially in need of information. These skills enhance a person's ability to express themselves and to ask the right questions whilst seeking a desired outcome from a person in question. A constant effort to process information with a desired result is what journalistic interviews are all about. What this allows is for analytical thinkers to obtain information from sources within their own employment environment and to ask the right questions that will advance their careers.


Overview of the module

There are important parts to this module that will empower your future with an uncommon skill. The summarization of this module entails understanding what an interview is, how to see the interview as dialogue, understanding the function of an interview and some basic interview history will be covered in section one. Additional sections cover the topic of an interview, deciphering which question is the most important and the skill of ask—listen—ask that will all be followed by practice and exercises. Concluding chapters and sections thoroughly goes over politeness vs. aggression; closeness vs. distance and cooperation vs. competition. At its completion, the module will cover popular scenarios and professions where these skills can be used. They include debates and talk shows.