Take Aways – Interviewing Dos and Don’ts and Critical Thinking

Take Aways – Interviewing Dos and Don’ts and Critical Thinking

Wednesday, May 13, 2014

By Tara Henley


  1. When interviewing, one of the best things you could do is preamble before asking your questions. When you preamble, you are stating information you have researched about your interviewee prior to the interview. This not only assures them that you have done your research, which they will respect you more for, but also allows for you to ask more detailed and in-depth questions regarding the person you are interviewing. Furthermore, it sets up the question for the interviewee to answer in a way that suits the layout you feel most comfortable with during your interview, ensuring that you are always in control. When you preamble, you are also more likely to get a more heartfelt answer from the person you are interviewing, because the question is not only very specific, but also because they will feel more comfortable with you as an interviewer since you have taken the time to research them beforehand.
  2. When you are interviewing someone, you should always “go for the jugular” as Marissa Dragani, a professor at Loyalist College says. This essentially means that you should ask tougher questions to get down to the bottom of issues regarding the person you are interviewing. Often times, this is very hard to do. The interviewee is usually trained to perform a series of techniques used to make it seem like they are answering the question at hand when in reality, they are not. An example of this is when an interviewee begins to stall instead of directly answering your question. When this happens, they best thing you can do is politely cut them off before they get too into what they are saying and re-ask your original question or rephrase it in a new way until you get an answer. Another technique they will try to use is to side-step the question. Again, the best thing you can do when this happens is to continue re-asking the question until you get an answer. It is very important you do not allow the person you are interviewing to take over the interview and lead it in a direction you are not comfortable with. Sometimes, if you do not phrase a question properly, your interviewee will challenge the premise of the question. You should never allow this to happen; conduct the proper research ahead of time to ensure you know how you would be able to handle the situation if it occurs. Also, you may need to rephrase your original question in a way that the person you are interviewing will not be able to question it back.
  3. There is an art to critical thinking. Critical thinking is not simply stating an uneducated and bias opinion on a topic, even if you believe you are in the right. Critical thinking involves research so that you are able to make an informed decision based on facts and not feelings. You should be very analytical of every piece of information you read when you begin thinking critically, which, as a journalist, is very important. You need to focus on the logic behind any written article, and you should always check sources for accuracy and validation. You cannot allow bias or personal feelings interfere with your writing when you are critically thinking. If you interject your personal opinions with what you are writing, people will find it hard to believe what you are writing hasn’t been influenced by your bias and therefore will not be able to believe you. Lastly, you cannot assume anything when you are thinking critically. Double and triple check all of your facts and never make anything up just because it fits into your story. If you publish anything that isn’t true, you will be held liable and will quite possibly be fired from wherever you are working.
  4. When you are interviewing someone, it is not only important to avoid committing any fallacies, but to also be aware of when the interviewee does this to make their argument seem more sound. There are five major fallacies to watch out for: the straw man, slippery slop, black or white, ad hominem and begging the question fallacies. The straw man fallacy consists of someone misrepresenting another person to make the other person’s argument seem unsound. In the slippery slope fallacy, a person will try to convince you that one event or action will lead to another, completely irrelevant and hyperbolized event or action and so forth. A black and white fallacy is committed when someone over simplifies the situation and makes it seem like there are only two possibilities when in fact there are many. Begging the question occurs when a person will try to claim their conclusion as a premise when it is not.
  5. These fallacies can be very dangerous in an interview. You need to know exactly what to do when you hear any of these fallacies as well as be certain you are not committing any yourself. Knowledge of these fallacies ahead of time is one of the best methods to deal with this. Study each fallacy and learn what each one means before walking into any interview. This will allow you to have an easier time identifying when a fallacy has been committed. Also, be very aware of your strategy and layout going into the interview. Have a backup plan for addressing any fallacy presented as an argument and make sure you stick to the original layout. The best method for dealing with fallacies however is to ask reflective and closed questions. By getting into specifics, the person you are interviewing is more likely to trip up with what they are saying, and their argument will fall apart as a result.

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