Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘OK

The “X” Interview

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Bandaid

I’m starting to think that interviews fall into one of five categories; the great, the good, the OK, the questionable and the bad.

The great is when everything goes well AND the conversation is one that neither person wants to end. The interviewee says “Great Question” a couple times. No technical problems, great answers … an interviewer’s Nirvana.

The good is you might have one or two small problems and you are prepared to quickly deal with them without breaking stride. Meanwhile the other person is good natured, engaged and generous with their time.

The OK is where you have a few unexpected hitches that come up during the course of the interview and but you fix them with very little distraction and with the patience and forgiveness by the guest. You pull it out of a possible fire. Or you have an interviewee that is somewhat engaged and knows they are doing the interview to promote something. They are pleasant and you come away patting yourself on the back a little.

The questionable is when you have technical problems you are dealing with during the interview that won’t go away, or you run out of research time and aren’t satisfied with your list of questions. Also, in this category might be an interviewee who doesn’t really want to talk, but is committed to because somebody else set the interview up, or because they really need ALL of the publicity they can get, even if they’re not necessarily excited about it. It’s in this interview where personalities might not click and you’re not sure, but you wonder if you’re periodically being insulted by an interviewee that would really rather be doing something else.

And the bad is as bad and as wrong and as the great is great. The equipment breaks and you have to reschedule, or go to a undesirable, technical Plan B. Or the interviewee is very late, unapologetic or openly hostile. Here is where you plow through because it’s one of those times when you remind yourself that you’re a professional. This is where you earn a stripe and think, “OK, statistically, I had this bad one, so how long will I go before I get another bad one?”

Yep, that all sounds about right.

Written by Interviewer

August 28, 2013 at 12:03

The Ask

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Asking opens doors.  Asking makes the unconsidered, the inconceivable and the unapproachable, possible.  Asking is the wild card of the universe.  Because before we ask, we don’t know.  And because we don’t know, we assume.  And because we all have our own egos, large and small, we think we already know the answer.  So, we try to work around the issue to get to where we want to be without asking.  We try to get what we want without taking the one critical path that will definitively get us there, yes or no. 

We may think we don’t have the courage to ask or the stomach to ask or the humility to ask or the time to ask.  But not asking can set in motion a cascading, Angry Birds kind of collapse of the expectations we built thinking we can achieve escape velocity from metaphysical gravity.

Sometimes, only one person can make it happen and that person wants their respect before they give you yours.  Or they’ve been waiting a long time to deny you what you deeply want and you both know it.  Or, they’ve been dying to help you, but they want you to man or woman up and ask.  Sometimes, you don’t ask because you don’t want to know, but everything and everybody in your orbit is stopped, like some kind of Twilight Zoney solstice and they’re all waiting for you to move on. And of course, you can be stuck, forced to ask the wrong person who may take your ask and use it against you. But the ask isn’t about who you ask as much as it is about the act of asking and the direction that compass needle points. Yes, you can be betrayed. But the world is full of roads to your own Lotus blossom. Ask somebody else since The Ask can also help you circumvent demigods. Consequently, you may have to make a lot of asks before you finally get to an answer you’ve been praying for. But it’s possible to that answer will never come, no matter how may people you ask. And if you’re facing a wall because there is nobody else to ask, live with it … for now.  

Like all roads lead to Rome, sometimes, all routes and passageways do point you to your one and only one Omega man or woman. Of course, you can always opt out of the ask, and everything connected with it.  Our time here is full of smaller asks that we can avoid or can work around or can face easier than others.  Rarely in life does it come down to the one ask that changes everything.  But it does tend to happen, significantly, at least once.  And when it does, it’s usually the biggest thing we’ve faced, or will face.  So we can choose to not play it out, but chances are, it’ll be the one decision we’ll never forget; the one that will affect all the rest. 

The Ask is the crack of the bat in John Fogerty’s “Put me in Coach.”  The Ask, at the right time and to the right person, crushes everything else. The Ask can slam doors shut or blast them open. But to get either result for sure, you have to do it, face it, let it send you flying – up or down. Because in the end, the ask is all about you.

Written by Interviewer

March 26, 2013 at 22:31