Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

Interview questions: don’t ask “how do you feel?”

Some great advice from Al’s Morning Meeting:

Instead of “How Do You Feel?”

It has been such a treat this week to lead a Poynter seminar for public-radio reporters. One of our guest faculty members is National Public Radio’s Audie Cornish, who often covers big disasters like the aftermath of Katrina, Alabama tornadoes and such. One of her goals is to get close to people in time of trauma. She offered our group some alternatives to the “how does it feel” question. On her list was:

* What happened?

* What happens next?

* What did you do?

* What do you make of this?

* How do you explain what has happened to other people?

* When it first happened, what did you think — and what do you think now?

* What surprised you about how others reacted?

* What are you worried about?

* What are you telling your children/family?

* What does this make you think about your own community?

* Why do you still live here?

I always thought the “how do you feel?” question was so dumb. The answer is always predictable. Cornish’s questions force the subject to take a moment to answer. Which is good, cause then you’re more likely to get a substantive quote or interesting information. These questions aren’t just for radio or traumatic events. Think about how they apply to day-to-day reporting and multimedia.

Can you think of any other good questions to ask during an interview that will ?