As part of the NCTJ course, every Monday we have a speaker in. Everyone hates Mondays and always wants to escape away early. Sometimes, the worst thing is putting you in a room where you are simply told to sit and listen (and ask questions if you wish). So it’s fair to say it’s not the most intriguing afternoon. Although, last week we had Jon Wilde as our speaker. I was going to explain what he did and give a brief background but I decided to steal his bio of The Guardian’s website instead…
“Jon Wilde has worked for Melody Maker, Blitz, Loaded, Uncut, the Independent, Esquire, Uncut, Elle, Marie Claire, GQ and is a regular contributor to the Mail on Sunday, the Guardian and Quintessentially. He lives in Hove with his son (William), his dog (Banjo) and an ever-increasing gang of cats. Jon’s ambition is to prove that a life of idle self-indulgence, if led with a whole heart, will bring a certain wisdom. So help him God.”
That’s him there. He is a celebrity interviewer and aside from a couple of name dropping every now and then which made us all very jealous, his job seems very exciting, possibly a bit daunting but never boring.
He told us some stories about getting punched by a snooker player (but thinking the whole time how it would make a great opening to his story), and how he got attacked by a guy who stole the money for the interview and left (I can’t remember his name) and funny ways to get people talking in an interview. Although he made it sound easy, I can imagine it would be hard.
While he was talking, he kept giving out small pieces of advice, seeing as we were a room full of wannabe journos, and me realizing it would probably be a good blog post, decided to write them down on my phone!
So in terms of interviewing people, here it goes:
- “It’s not an art, it’s a science. Your research can never be too thorough.”
- “When you walk into an interview, always know more about them, than they know about themselves.”
- “Take charge in an interview. Ask the questions you want to ask.”
- “Have the balls to ask difficult questions.”
- “Always be hungry and curious”
- “Ask the easy questions first, and ease in to the difficult ones.”
- “Know your angle and what you want to get out of the interview before you go in there.”
Although some of the points may seem obvious, I think they are important. There is no point going into an interview having not fully researched the person you are talking to. You need to know what you want to get out of the interview, find the angle that you think you want to take and even though it may change, make sure you find out something different about the person that the public want to know. There is no point asking them general questions which would give no juice to a story, but they may need a slight probing to get to the gossip. But of course these are my words, not Jon Wilde’s.