The Right Questions, the Right Way

A couple of months ago, as part of the MYWriters Festival, I conducted a workshop on interview techniques.


I always preface these things by saying I’m not an expert, and this is just ONE way of doing things — I’m sure there are many others.

BUT, if you do happen to be interested, I thought I’d share my slides from the event with you. Some of them require a bit of explanation, so if you’d like me to go over something or go into a little bit more depth, just let me know.

Topics covered:

  • Who Should I Interview?
  • Securing the Interview
  • Setting the Mood
  • Asking the Right Questions, the Right Way
  • After the Interview

Download the slides here!

interview-techniques-honyNOTE: At the end of the presentation, you’ll notice a case study portion with an example from the Facebook page Humans of New York. Brandon of HONY is a great study in interviewing skills because in just minutes, he’s able to coax his subjects into telling him their most personal, vulnerable stories.

I had the workshop participants think about what kind of questions he has to ask and what kind of mood he has to set in order to make this happen. Then I threw them into the deep end: I gave them 20 minutes to go out, talk to a complete stranger (we were in a large public library and it was a weekend, so the place was packed), and come back to me with the best story that they could. The best story won a copy of my book.

This was based off my newswriting classes in journalism school. In our weekly 3-hour labs, we were given our assignments within the first half-hour, and by the end of the class, we’d have to turn in our pieces. How we used that time — how much we spent on research and interviews versus how much we spent actually knocking out the piece — was up to us.

Sure, they probably didn’t like me very much once the workshop was over. Hell, I certainly didn’t like my professor very much on those days. But whether I liked it or not was irrelevant. I learned. And so, hopefully, did they.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Hanna,

    Nice blog! If you ever run a session like this one again on interviewing skills, do let me know 🙂 am keen to attend.


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