When you are an entry-level journalist, many genres are too hard for you to start, and there are different reasons for that. You may lack enough knowledge and practice to conduct a good investigation or you may lack writing skills to make an exciting report. But it does not mean you should give up without trying. Hence, it is better to start with some other genres. For example, an interview is a rather popular one, but still there are some rules you should follow to make it interesting for your readers and, first of all, applicable for the periodical you write for. Thus, here I will discuss from what to start, how to conduct a successful interview and how to make it interesting on paper, how not to fail with misplaced questions and rough mistakes.
First of all, you should realize the aim of the interview you will place in the newspaper or magazine and, of course, keep in mind who will read it. In other words, you should decide on communicative and pragmatic goal of your writing. Secondly, you are to learn as much as possible about the object of your interview. Maybe, it will be the person himself (an actor or a singer, for instance, who are interesting for the audience themselves) or some product the interviewee can tell about (it may be the supervisor of some company starting a new production line or the expert in some field or the director of a new movie etc.). It may also be some socially significant event or action. In any way, you should be aware of what you will be speaking of. The better you prepare, the more pleased is the interviewee. The more pleased he is, the more information he shares with you and the more opportunities you receive to make a good text.
Next, when you have a good image in your head, you are free to make a list of questions. Try to escape trivial, standard and boring questions. Instead, they should provoke the interviewee to reveal as much interesting information as possible.
Further on, you should decide on the structure of your interview. You should keep being logical and consistent. Each question should receive approximately the same volume and depth as the others, except maybe some detailing ones. Like in any other genre, the interview should include a kind of introduction, the development of though and then concluding paragraph. Introduction may be made in a lead, where you state the aim and character of your interview or include some eye-catching phrase from the words of your interviewee. “To make your interview strong, you should begin and end strongly,”¯ Minden and Roth (39) state. And, of course, to grab your readers’ attention, you should provide a good, catching and exciting heading.
Finally, don’t forget about language and style. Certainly, the interview is not a genre where you can freely perfect your writing skill, but still a good interviewer will always make his work recognizable and clear. The way you will communicate with your interviewee highly depends on who he is and what the topic is, but you should remember that friendly and open style with light humor is always to the point, no matter how serious your conversation should be. Still, you should never try to shorten the distance if your interviewee is against.
Minden, Cecilia and Roth, Kate. How to Write an Interview. North Mankato, MN: Cherry Lake Pub, 2011.