The art of the interview

How do you deal with tricky interview partners? How much preparation is needed, how do you end an interview? Richard Quest, one of the most well-known faces of CNN, explained how to do it.

If you were given the chance, what’s a question you would ask President Putin?
Bearing in mind, the thousands of lives lost and the millions of lives ruined, was it really necessary to do this?

And what would he answer, you assume?
This comes back to my fundamental point: No matter what you ask him, he’s never going to turn around and say: “You know what, you are right. This was a terrible idea, in fact, it’s not a special military operation. It’s a war, and I must immediately stop it.” It’s never going to happen. So what you can do is you can basically show the viewer the falseness of his position by saying things like “How many lives do you want to ruin because of this? And did Ukraine post a threat worthy of this level of destruction?” And he would answer about the greatness of Russia and the historical nature, and the Nazification and the Denazification. You can’t deal with it.

How much are you asking such questions for yourself and how much are you trying to represent your viewers?
If I’m not interested, why would the viewer be? If I don’t care, why should the viewer? I try to bring something into the interview that will make the interviewee realize that I know what I’m talking about and at the same time will identify with the viewers who are having similar problems. If I had to do an interview with a CEO of a company I don’t really care about, I would still have to vest myself in. Have there been occasions where I couldn’t care a flying fart, and I still had to do the interview? Absolutely. And that’s fine, as long as I’ve done my job. Although that’s an unusual situation.

How much preparation is needed when going into an interview?
What’s the purpose of the interview? That’s the first question. I will start preparing within those confines. You have to make a decision, if you ask about this you cannot ask about that. And then you do your research to make sure you have the ammunition necessary to prosecute your question.

What’s the best interview you’ve ever done?
You know right away. This was the case with Thatcher, Patrick Swazey, Hugh Hefner. A more modest answer would be the CEO of Scania Trucks. As he was answering, I’m realizing that he’s actually telling me what he thinks, actually telling me how hard it is in the company at the moment. And as soon as we ended, everyone knew that we had gotten it.

Give me advice on how to end an interview.
If it’s been a really bad interview, just say goodbye. If it was just difficult, try and bring it to an ending of comity. Show respect, let the person have the last word. You move over, you shake their hand, that’s it. You’re smiling and then you just say: “Thank you very much.”

Thank you very much, Richard.

Richard Quest is one of the most renowned TV journalists in the world. He’s worked for the BBC, CNN and interviewed people like the Dalai Lama, Margaret Thatcher and Hugh Hefner.

Photos: Schranner Negotiation Institute


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