Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘Jason Issacs

Not Light on Depth

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In the middle of editing this most recent interview, I had to stop to write this post.  I’ve done a few dozen interviews now, and I’m starting to notice a pattern. Many of the people I talk to, whether they’re famous or up and coming, are surprised that I actually know something about who they are or what they do.  And that surprises me.  And for the people reading this post or listening to my interviews, it should surprise you.  Why?  Because if you’re interested in what I have to say, or what they have to say, it means. you expect me to be able to tell you something, and something not pat or cliche’ish, but something unusual, valuable, useful or unique.  And that’s stuff I can only get from taking the time to do the research.  It’s what gives the conversation credibility to convey.  And apparently, a lot of frustrated interviewees are interviewed by a lot of interviewers that don’t do that.

Russell Hitchcock of Air Supply said his partner Graham Russell has gotten up in the middle of lazy interviews and left because the interviewer started out with a question like, “So, what kind of music do you guy perform?”  Haitian V said essentially the same thing.  He told me he expected to be pissed off at me  because he expected that I was like other interviews he’d done where the interviewer hadn’t taken the time to learn anything about him, his life or his work.

I just wonder where else this happens in society and culture.  I remember that scene in “Armageddon” where the Jason Issacs character is trying to discredit a bad opinion from another presidential advisor on how to save the Earth from the asteroid collision, and says, “As the presidents’ chief scientific advisor, we were at MIT together.  And, in a situation like this, you – you really don’t wanna take the advice from a man who got a C minus in astrophysics.”

Just makes me wonder sometimes how may other C minus students are there out there running things.  I can certainly think of a few.  But my interviews will never be light on depth.