Techniques of professional interviewers

Interviews are designed to generate information. There are many ways that a interview can be designed, but a well designed interview is only as strong as it’s interviewer. In this report I will be examining the interview styles and techniques of two long time journalist: Bill O’Reailly and Trevor McDonald.

Bill O’Reailly is a long time interviewer on the fox news channel in America. In his interview with Jeremy Glick, Bill seems to have an agenda set out in his overall interview plan, the agenda being to undermine all of Jeremy’s views. Bill uses open- sometimes seemingly rhetorical- questions to start the interview out. Well calling them traditional questions would be fallacious. Instead Bill seems to make a direct statement masquerading as a question, “I was surprised, and the reason I was surprised is that this ad equates the United States with the terrorists. I was offended by that”. Bill only seems to ask two questions throughout the entire interview, despite the fact that he easily contributed to half of the interviews audio. ” I would never represent you, you know why?” seemingly the only reason this question was asked was so O’Reilly could further antagonise his interviewee. O’Reilly has a confrontational style of interview. This is demonstrated with both his body language- sitting up and straightening his back and pointing his pen at Jeremy when he gets angry or wants to state his point louder. The rapport between Jeremy and Bill is incredibly poor, the interview breaks down into a debate, then into a shouting match. The whole purpose of this interview seemed to antagonise Mr Glick, most likely to get him to go just as aggressive as Bill, however after two minutes in to the interview, Jeremy still has a fairly calm demeanour. Bill clearly steps up the tempo hear with the raised voice, finger pointing and rhetorical questions. Jeremy does lose some composure but not to an extent where he did a disservice to himself. O’Reilly’s goal is to clearly upset Mr Glick, possibly to bring illegitimacy to Glicks political opinions.

O’Reilly is capable of changing this interview template, in his interview with Kevin Sorbo, Bill becomes an almost different person altogether. In this interview Bill actually lets Kevin Sorbo talk and the doesn’t shout or point, he asks qualitative questions, open questions and allows Kevin to put his view point across, granted this is likely  due to the fact that Bill agrees with what Kevin is saying, but nevertheless, in this interview Bill shows that he isn’t just a one style interviewer, he can change and adapt his style to achieve a different goal, in this case promoting a movie. Bill is fairly relaxed and casual in this interview, he still have a straight back but doesn’t use his physical presence to impose upon his interview.  In this interview he actually asks more questions and allows them to be answered. “Why should i see this, what am I going to get out of it?”. The rapport between Bill and Kevin is very relaxed and easy going, with both apparently on the same page throughout the interview.

In Trevor’s first interview with a death row inmate, Trevor and the inmate have a good rapport, this is mainly due to the fact that Trevor talks in a calm neutral voice. Trevor also has a strong yet calm presence , during the interview he stands about a foot and a half away and maintains eye contact throughout the entire interview. Trevor asks open questions qualitative questions and lets the interviewee answer the question as far as the interviewee wants to. Trevor keeps to the journalistic context, with Trevor’s only goal seeming to be to just let the inmate tell his side of the story . In this interview Trevor stays incredibly professional never letting his reactions or emotions betray him and never judging the inmate for anything he says. The rapport is okay, it’s not supposed to a great conversation though as much as it is supposed to be about the interview talking his side of the story.

In Trevor’s second interview with Tony Blair, Trevor is slightly more aggressive then in the two previous interviews. He keeps his voice and body language neutral, but the main goal of this interview for Trevor seems to be about interrogating Tony in this interview, while he allows Tony to answer his questions, he does occasionally interrupt him, but its usually to ask him another question “but the point is prime minister, the point, the point..” . In this interview Trevor demonstrates a wider variety of question types. He asks qualitative questions, quantitative questions, open, closed even iterative questions. The rapport is pretty decent, throughout the interview Mr McDonald acts more like a moderator between Tony Blair and the audience than he does the interviewer. Occasionally McDonald will ask Mr Blair a question, constantly keeping a calm appearance. ” You’ve said quite frequently that their are things you know which we don’t, why don’t you share it with us this evening then?” This isn’t just a question it’s a challenge, Trevor McDonald is seemingly demanding an answer from Mr Blair- yet retains his composure.

Overall I don’t think Bill’s main style of interrupting and belittling his interviewee is very professional, with that being said it is effective. Bill seems to have an amazing ability at distorting his opponents view point. His loud voice and massive stature helps him overpower his interviews. Bill isn’t as good at conducting an interview where his guest has free reign to speak. In the Kevin Sorbo interview he did seem noticeably uncomfortable when Kevin talked on for more than 30 seconds. Trevor McDonald on the other hand has a different style all together. Staying consistently professional. Although this doesn’t always make an entertaining interview it does make an effective one. In conclusion I believe Trevor McDonald is the superior interviewer. While Bill is effective at what he does, Trevor is just a complete professional at all times, and only seems interested in the story of the interviewee, rather than debating or arguing against the interviewees points.


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