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Tips on Interviewing: 3 Rules Every Writer Should Know

Of course you need to make sure your recorder works, but what else?

Whoever it is—actor, writer, musician, rookie, veteran, legend, hype—they have a story. So try to ask questions that will tell or illuminate their story.

We spoke to Alessandra Guarneri on the College Media Network Podcast about her experience interviewing musicians, specifically, We Three, the sibling band from Oregon who captured viewers on America’s Got Talent.

College Media Network Tips on Interviewing: 3 Rules Every Writer Should Know
Alessandra Guarneri is featured on the CMN Podcast #2, “The Unknown Gold”

“I don’t eliminate questions because they’ve already been asked,” said Alessandra. “It could just be their first time stumbling across the band or artist…I definitely do my research to make sure everything I’m asking is appropriate and isn’t ridiculous.”

Whoever you are interviewing took their time to speak with you. One of the ways to be respectful of that time is to be informed.

Ask open ended questions.

Keep the questions as open as you can; try and remember not to speak very much and let the interviewee do all the talking, remembering to really give them time to get to answers—this can mean letting silence happen. This can be very helpful in terms of unlocking what the interviewee is really concerned with.

Provoke something interesting.

“I like to ask if you could only listen to 3 songs the rest of your life what would they be and why,” said Alessandra “People go crazy over it. They actually feel like it will become their future.”

The most important quality in an interviewer is the ability to listen.

When interviewing, don’t worry about your next question; allow whatever answer’s being given to steer the conversation. You can always get back to your original list of questions—and you should make sure that you do that before the interview’s over—but leave yourself open to surprises and turns.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

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