Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Q&A Interview Tips, Part Two

(Continued from Part One)

Actually, it's best to just have a conversation, and work in your questions. If you get formal and start firing off questions, one after the other, you're likely to get a series of short responses that make for uninteresting reading.

Note that an interview conversation should be pretty much one-sided. Which means that you should stay out of it as much as possible. After the subject responds to your question about buying his first guitar, don't feel obligated to tell him about buying your first guitar. It'll clutter up your recording and probably be embarrassing if anyone else has to listen to the tape.

You won't use all the questions you've prepared. Some will turn out to be irrelevant or stupid in the light of things the interview subject tells you. And you'll come up with new questions inspired by the conversation with your subject.

When you've completed the interview, feel free to edit for clarity of meaning and to make the subject look like she has more than a nodding acquaintance with the English language. Nobody speaks perfectly, but a literal, direct transcrption is likely to read something like this:

Do you ever feel famous?
I, like, don't have a real gallery and I, like ... well, like I don't do shows, and so it's really sometimes hard to, you know, really wrap my head around the fact that, like, this is something that is important to, like, thousands of people, you know. It's, like ... well--you know, and it's, you know, like really difficult to understand why so many people are interested in what I do because it's like... but it's not like millions of people are really, like—not like millions of people are coming to see what I do. It just seems—it’s like, mind-boggling. It’s like, it’s not even like something l can totally comprehend at any level.

When what you want is more like this:
What is it like to be so highly regarded in your field?
I do so few shows that I don't get much public reaction. So the idea that what I do is important is not something I can comprehend.

Any questions?

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