Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘The Republic

Getting Interviewed

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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.

Written by Interviewer

June 23, 2013 at 03:17