How do you prepare to defend a client on a charge of murder, or interview a president, prime minister or retired general?
Throughout our lives interviews in which we’ve taken part have probably meant stress whether they have been for examination purposes or later, for the all-important job search that can set our life’s course. Interviews in which we play no part are perhaps even more important.
For some, conducting interviews is a profession. I have conducted many job interviews over many years in the past in what I guess was a very unprofessional manner: I almost always relied on gut feel and took my decision within the first minute or so of the interview. Modern HR professionals would be horrified not least because I, a non-HR person conducted the interview.
Professional interviewers, whether legal representatives in a court of law, or journalists employed in TV/radio or the written word generally seem to have more at stake – the lives or liberty of their clients, their own jobs perhaps. How do you prepare to defend a client on a charge of murder, or interview a president, prime minister or retired general? What about when preparing for a meeting with an over-confident, self-important celebrity?
As I have already said, I am not a competent or experienced interviewer nor am I intending to become so but I guess what I have always lacked in the past has been many hours of research on my subject and repeated preparation.
It seems to me that many of today’s over-confident and self-important interviewers are rude and arrogant. They constantly interrupt the interviewees or try to lead them by saying things like, “Is what you’re trying to say … ?“ When I watch or listen to an interview I am keen to hear what the interviewee has to say, not what the pompous, and often grossly overpaid, interviewer wants to say.
Equally irritating to me is the interviewee who evades a question time and time again with some meaningless platitude that is so often preceded by the words, “With respect, … “ which generally means that he (the interviewee) has absolutely no respect at all for the interviewer or, more importantly, the viewer, listener or reader. There are countless examples of this and, very sadly, there will be very many more in times to come.
The world’s politicians are, of course, skilled proponents of this behaviour. A cynic might say that they love to make vacuous statements almost as much as they like to make promises they know they will not keep, or be able to keep.
In today’s world of fake news so much depends on fair and open interview techniques. Many of us tend to believe what we see and hear via the august broadcast channels and decide our voting preferences accordingly. If we get those wrong we have to live with the results of those errors until the end of the term of office of the new incumbent.