Quick Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills
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The GOATs of Interview: How Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern Get People to Open Up
Interviewing is one of the most effective ways to get to know something about someone in a formal setting. The script is simple: question and answer. It seems straightforward: take a skilled interviewer, ask the right questions, follow intriguing conversational leads, and facilitate an insightful conversation.
Leading an interview is both a dance and a balancing act, and in thinking about what makes for a truly great interview, two of the greatest help us understand how to get the most out of one’s interview guests. Long-time television host, actress, and producer Oprah Winfrey and long-term radio host and self-appointed “king of all media” Howard Stern are arguably better than anyone at extracting information from guests using very different techniques. While the two have seemingly opposite styles and delivery approaches, both share the qualities of great conversationalists. So, what makes them so effective?
Oprah Wants You to Feel Human.
Oprah Winfrey makes her subjects, rather than her questions, her focal point as she digs deep at emotional and at times gut-wrenching topics. According to Insider, the one question Oprah has asked each of her over 70,000 guests she’s interviewed prior to getting into the meat of the discussion is “What is your intention?”
The power of such a simple question was seen in the backlash faced by A Million Little Pieces author James Frey. Frey wrote a purported autobiography promoted on Oprah’s beloved book club, and it was later discovered that Frey’s accounts of his life-long struggle with alcoholism were made up. Oprah invited him onto his show and confronted his insincerity, never allowing him to falter or change the subject – making for not only great television, but a fantastic interview.
Oprah was relentless. She went straight into the story behind Frey’s false book, citing that she does not know what is true from what is false, providing him with a platform to explain himself. Oprah remained authentic with how she felt, telling viewers that she was “Standing here on behalf of the reader who is pissed [off].” She said that during her career, she’s always tried to “maintain a position of non-judgment, and being able to find a thread of light a way in, to see that person as a human being, and look at them with some sense of compassion.” While she certainly did not give this grace to James Frey, her authenticity is what makes her so exceptional at what she does.
Key points include:
Going where other interviewers fear to tread
Meeting people on their level
Read the full article, The Goats Of Interview: How Oprah Winfrey And Howard Stern Get People To Open Up