OLD Media Moves

Best interviewers are the best listeners

May 21, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

The best interviewers are those who listen to what’s being said, according to two FBI agents who spoke at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers annual conference on Tuesday.

In addition, interviewers make mistakes by jumping to wrong conclusions, being inattentive to the person they’re talking to, being impatient, doing only one interviiew and losing their temper, said Tony Caruso and Gregg Harmon.

“You want to know what you can get out of the interview,” added Harmon. “If you go in there and don’t know anything, how do you know what you’re going to get? It just comes down to preparing ahead of time.”

Both agreed that the best way to interview someone is in a room with no distractions. It’s a disadvantage to interview someone in their office. “They have control of that area, and they have established the position of advantage,” said Harmon.

Caruso said he prefers to have the interviewee out from behind their desk so that he can watch more of their body language. The desk is also where the person derives some of their power.

“Control is also how you look, your presence, your professionalism and your demeanor,” said Caruso. “Don’t start peppering them questions from the get go. Develop some sense of rapport. People talk to people that they like.”

Caruso said he likes to start an interview by asking open-ended questions that let the person talk free flow. “And then you start surgically planting questions you want answers to,” he said, calling interviewing “an art.”

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