Basics to interviewing: Do’s & Don’ts

Today, I was part of a CSUN Latino Journalist project. I was asked by a friend/colleague to give a, “Basics to Interviewing” workshop. The DO’S & DON’TS to a successful interview. Although I will admit that I am and will always be a student of Journalism (I believe in growth…you never stop learning), I decided to create my own list of do’s and don’ts (especially because it was hard for me to find any tips online). From my years of experience (about 4) as a journalist, and from having studied it myself (SFSU-BECA), I came up with the following:


  • Be prepared. Prepare a list of five (short) questions. These questions will sum up all you need to know about your interviewee. Do you have your recorder ready? What about batteries?
  • Take notes. Just enough notes of specific times and topics.
  • Ask more. If you’re not limited with time, ask away. Ask questions that are relevant.
  • Stay in control. Never let your interviewee hold the microphone or ramble on.   
  • Stay focused. How is the interview going? Make sure your questions are being answered.
  • Be confident. Be confident in yourself and your questions. Feel free to be creative; how could your questions be different?
  • Make conversation. Prior to the interview, and even after the interview. You want your interviewee to feel as comfortable as possible.
  • Thank your interviewee for his/her time.
    • Make sure you have the direct contact information. Record his/her FULL NAME, age, & occupation directly on your recorder, or camera. 


  • Assume. Don’t answer the question for your interviewee even if you both already know the answer.
  • Interrupt. Sometimes we learn something new about our interviewee that might make the story more interesting.
  • Ask close-ended questions. Stick to open-ended questions.
    • Ex.) Who will you vote for this election? vs. what do you think about the two candidates in this election?
  • Wait.  We sometimes wait until the end of an event to seek that interview that we desperately need, only to find that it is too late.
  • Hhhmmm, ok…. yeah, (giggle). Smile as often as you’d like, nod, but avoid making any sound. Remember, NAT sound.
  • Argue with your interviewee. Stay calm, and professional.
  • Be afraid of silence.  If your interviewee is taking long to answer a question, give him/her time.

Sandra Rodríguez Nieto presenta su libro “La fábrica del crimen” en Los Ángeles….para El Nuevo Sol

Sandra Rodríguez Nieto, periodista investigativa de Ciudad Juárez, presentó el jueves su libro La fábrica del crimen en la Universidad del Estado de California, Northridge (CSUN) en Los Ángeles, y habló sobre el proceso periodístico que realizó a lo largo de varios … Continue reading