It is said that to become a good radio interviewer there is no substitute for experience. I got a good understanding of this at very beginning of my fellowship journey with Mann Deshi Tarang (A Community Radio Station in Maharashtra). I was astonished by the interviewing skills of the program director here. He would just start interviewing anyone on air by just knowing some key facts about them. The interview would start from a very basic level and go in deep, simultaneously building trust and confidence in interviewee. I was deliberately willing to gain ‘those’ skills; but ended up with knowing the fact that experience matters.
Then I got into observation mode for a few days and started looking out for some kind of shortcuts to make an interview successful. The first thing I learnt was to be free from preconceptions. Before starting with questions; it should be made sure that the interviewee is comfortable with the discussion topic, location, etc. If not, try to change the location, tell about yourself else cracking a joke also works fine. To make them comfortable; one can share similar stories related to discussion topic from around. The interview should be started from understanding perspective of general audience. So, it can be said that basic start is always good for an interview. It is also important to keep in mind the message to be conveyed from the interview and frame next questions accordingly.
If the interview is of informative type than personal experiences; it is better to give an idea of discussion topics and things to be covered beforehand. The tips from the induction training about asking open ended questions came handy here. Taking something from the previous question; you have to lead to another one. Like, often I found the format to be summarizing what the interviewee replied and asking the reason behind that. It is always useful to keep in mind not to assume anything or skip anything because you know that. Even if some of the answers are known to the interviewer; it is better to start with those questions.
The structure of the interview should be kept in mind. If it’s going off the track; re-framing the question and asking it again is required. The interview should be focused on one basic topic and even if the interviewee gets diverted from the main topic; bringing him back to topic by asking relevant questions is necessary. Also it’s not needed to have deep knowledge of the field or occupation of the interviewee; but a basic level understanding always helps.
While moving towards end of the interview, it is important to route it towards the conclusion. Also asking if interviewee likes to add something is also good question for ending it. So, my journey to be a good interviewer will go on and will become better at it as I gain the experience.