Pop Culture

Judging a Good Interview

Like just about everyone else in the world (or so it seems), I was struck with the flu last week. Because I was unable to move, I watched a lot of television – primarily because I was too tired to find the remote to turn it off. 

One of the shows I watched was Katie, Katie Couric’s new talk show. Known for being a perky co-host of the Today show, she now interviews all sorts of people in the comforts of a plush studio. The day I tuned in, she was interviewing 50 Cent, and quite frankly, it was kind of embarrassing. She had to ask him how to pronounce “Fiddy” (blaming it on being a white person, thus unable to figure it out), and then she kept urging him to take off his shirt so she could touch his muscles. It was weird, and I could only imagine if she begged another celebrity to take off their clothes so she could touch them.

Once the hour was over, I wondered, what makes a good television interview? That certainly was not one of them. I’ve seen ones where the interviewer asks rather unremarkable questions, but because the person answering the questions is so interesting, it’s good. I’ve seen others where the questions were probing, but the interviewee was having none of it, so they remained unanswered and the interview was boring. There is definitely a fine line, and a good interviewer needs to be able to think on their feet, ask good follow-up questions, and not let a silent interviewee stand in their way.

Watching the dullness that was Katie actually reminded me that I love a good interview. Are there any that you remember that stand the test of time?

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

5 replies on “Judging a Good Interview”

Oh, that does sound embarrassing.

My all time favourite interviewer is Ischa Meijer. Dutch man that went for it, but never in a rude way, made it visible that the interviewee thought that he was oversharing but didn’t feel bad about it. If I’d ever be able to be 1% of his talent ..hurrah.

I like Louis Theroux’ work as well. He shows how eager people are to talk about their opinion and/or passions. He probes and guides without ever going for the Ha Ha You Silly route.

Interviews that stick with me are usually the really bad ones. Interviewers that dress up as the character. Interviewers that don’t get the flipping point that there crossing a boundary. Interviewers that (OMG) don’t do any research and have to ask the stupidest questions.

I have quite a lot of feelings about this.

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