Empathy: How to Connect with Interview Subjects

A successful interview is important and can even be a fun and exhilarating experience for both the journalist and the interviewee. But like anything else, practice makes perfect. Journalists worry about include getting questions, trying to be calm, and most importantly, trying to connect with a subject. Empathy May be the most important tool in your kit. Empathy is relating to and communicating with people based on things that appeal to them and can trigger their emotions.

As an insider, I have some tips to share with you, on how to establish a good connection with your interviewee to make the interview entertaining and fun.

Background Research

Familiarity is what makes an interview interesting. And the best way to get familiar with someone whom you have, probably, not met until the interview day is to try to gather information about him/her. So, familiarity helps you to have a basis where conversations can be established. You don’t have to necessarily bear the load of the research. You can have one of your team members or an intern to do the background research. From this researched information, you can get choose something to work with.

Have a Conversation

Nervousness sets in when an interview becomes a ‘question and answer’ affair. It gets boring. You know, You: So, Jerry, what motivated to become an actor?” Jerry: Well, I was inspired by watching Harrison Ford act in the “Air Force One” movie, and I guess that did it.
You can spice up a conversation with, “Hi, Jerry! It is good to have you here. Knowing you appear so much on screen and sometimes the dexterity with which you pull your stunts, actions and gesture are astonishing. I can’t help imagining you when you were starting out. Could you share your experience with us, what it was like, deciding and getting started to be an actor?” Jerry would of course try to give you a flow of emotion. He might mention something that he hadn’t probably visited in his past, in a long time.
Conversation opens up the flow. It makes your audience see the mind of your guest, answering some questions you wouldn’t ask, but your audience might need the answers to.

Don’t be rigid; be flexible with questioning

It is good to make a list of the things to ask, however, it might kill creativity. When you have asked a question and your guest answers interestingly, with depths and scopes that might be strange, you should learn to flow, asking questions in the line that was veered to, for clarity sake. Following this pattern relaxes your guest. Making a list is good, however, following intuition, sequence and the storyline of your guest is better. Rigidity with a set of questions can make the interview look robotic and routine. To excel with flexibility, you have to be a good listener.

Flirt with Curiosity

Of all the qualities of an interviewer, curiosity is the most compelling skill that lets the subject keep speaking. Curiosity is the strength of a conversation. It is what stirs the other party to keep talking, making them feel important. While being curious, also make sure to be creative and sincere. Show your interest in knowing them, really. Don’t rush them with questions.

Own a Smile

Smiling solves a lot of problems. It shows a warm reception, reduces tension and it makes your guest feel comfortable around you. Don’t wear a smile as though it is part of your professional etiquette; own it and flaunt it. Research has proven, that people who smile look likable, competent and courteous. In addition, smiling helps you set the mood of your stage, beyond what the light, cameras and flashes can do for you. I bet that you would want the best from your guests and would want them to feel settled in and carefree to talk around you. So, don’t just wear a smile; own it and flaunt it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *