Keys to an Effective Yearbook Interview

Keys to an Effective Yearbook Interview

Aug 14th 2017

Yearbooks are not just pages filled with photos, artwork and statistics.  Yearbooks tell a story about your classmates.  And what is it that makes a story great?  Information.  Data.  

Your job as a yearbook writer is two-fold.  First, you have to find the data.  The data won’t come to you.  Second, you need to organize the data in a compelling, interesting and captivating manner.   Gathering and preparing your information is less mechanical and more artistic, as we will explain. 

One way to collect important data that will go on the pages of your yearbook, is to interview people.  Interviews can take place in person, over the phone, using facetime, or even through direct messaging on your smartphone.  Every writer will develop his or her own method of interviewing.  There is no one-size-fits-all.  This is an artistic, creative event and it will surely take on the personality of the writer to some degree. 

When it comes to the actual interview process there are a few things you need to do in order to make sure you come out of it with some great content for your yearbook. 

Keys to Effective Interviews

  • Schedule it Ahead of Time

The best interviews will be scheduled in advance, allowing both you and the person you will be interviewing to come in the right frame of mind.  Scheduling a formal time will also send a message that you are serious about them and that you respect both their time and their thoughts. 

  • Prepare Ahead of Time

Too many yearbook staffers make the mistake of winging their interviews.  Neither they nor their subject is prepared.  It might be helpful to give your subject a cheat sheet prior to the interview so that they can get their own thoughts primed to some degree.  Come with a list of questions and work your way through it. 

  • Engage in the Conversation

If you want someone to share from their heart, act like it.  Make eye contact.  Listen intently.  Don’t be fiddling with your mobile device unless it is clear to them that you are taking copious notes.  Use body language that shows that you are interested; lean forward and don’t cross your arms.

 

  • Ask Great Questions

Your questions can lead to either compelling or boring responses.  Take time to draw-up some beauties.  Ask open-ended questions, not simply yes or no.  Use phrases like “Tell me about…”, or “Can you think of a time when…?”.   Many students will be nervous during this interview so your questions can make or break the outcome. 

  • Follow-Up Questions

Even more powerful than your initial question are your follow-up questions.  Listen for clues that might lead down interesting paths and use follow-up questions to get you there.  Often, the diamonds are buried and need to be unearthed.  A strategic line of questioning will lead to some interesting content.

  • Be True to Your Subject 

There is nothing worse than being bamboozled by a reporter.  Too often, a person leaves an interview feeling confident about the discussion, only to find that the writer twisted their ideas or took their words out of context.  Don’t be that person.  Conduct your interviews with respect and carry that same respect into your writing.  

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