Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Getting Interviewed

with one comment

I used to wonder why I rarely heard interviewers getting interviewed.  But since focusing on the interviewing aspect of my skillset, journalism and reportage, I realize the answers are pretty simple.  One, you have the control.  The people you talk to are accountable to you.  And, after they’re finished talking, you have their reputation in your hands when it’s time to edit them for public consumption.  That kind of trust depends on the interviewer’s reputation.  People won’t come to you if they think you don’t know what you’re doing, or if you’re doing it for vindictive or nefarious purposes.  So an interviewer who is used to being the only one doing the listening isn’t always sure if others will be as professional and meticulous.  It might not be fair, but it comes down to “nobody will do it as good as me” thinking.  So interviewers are naturally hesitant to become interviewees.

The other thing has to do with how personal will the interviewer let themselves be.  Interviewers know how to get to the personal parts of the people they’re talking to.  There really is technique to it.  In “The Republic”, Socrates famously said that nobody knows better how to commit a specific type of crime than someone who has a specific type of skill.  Hence, nobody knows how to kill better than a doctor, to rob better than a policeman, etc.  And, although conversationalism isn’t a crime, drawing people out requires an innate understanding of people, and actively applying that understanding in a Dale Carnagie kind of way.

So turning that tool on the toolmaker can cause all kinds of walls to go up and filters to snap in place.  But then, the interviewer, of all people, should simultaneously understand how important disclosure, humanity and sincerity should be when talking to someone who is talking to you for the sake of an unseen audience.  They should, anyway.

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Written by Interviewer

June 23, 2013 at 03:17

One Response

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  1. Being on the other side of an interview is weird and vulnerable after running the show, and I only have a small fraction of your experience.

    I worked for a screen printing company that believed in cross-training. (I shadowed sales people as a graphic artist to see what they did all day and what problems they faced.) the company execs wisely wanted us to understand how we all fit together while developing greater empathy for our coworkers.

    given the kinds of interviews I like to do, sitting in the interviewee chair gave me new appreciation for the value of doing my homework when people take the time to talk to me. speaking with someone who knows the material is relaxing and allows for meatier commentary. my technique is definitely much improved as a result.

    Ren Green

    June 25, 2013 at 11:34


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