Posted by: graceroxasmorrissey | May 14, 2014

The Interviewing Self

The good interviewer is a finely tuned piece of research instrument, sensitive to the nuances of the interview situation — the interviewee’s attitude and level of comfort (or discomfort) as the interview progresses — and yet still able to listen actively and steer the agenda of the conversation.

You have to give as good as you’re getting. As your inner wheels furiously turn to keep the momentum of the conversation going, you also have to be aware of your own body language and your sense of timing. Not too pushy or single-minded in your probing so that the whole experience feels like an interrogation instead of a conversation, but not giving too much of the floor either to the interviewee that you walk away with a sense of missed opportunities. An interview should feel more like a good musical performance rather than a successful milking of the cow.

It’s also important to remember that you are ultimately relying on the kindness of strangers, even if the interviewees are getting compensated for their time. Although it’s not always possible because of limited time and other constraints, I feel that there should always be a portion of an interview that is dedicated solely to verbally “massaging” the interviewee. It goes beyond establishing rapport to serve the purpose of the interview. I think that the most profound way to thank interviewees for their time is acknowledging their unique humanity by being genuinely interested in them.


  1. Grace, I love your post. Love it. It is insightful and spot on. Well done.

  2. Thanks Natalie! Good luck with the presentation later.

  3. It is definitely a dance and not a performance; it is not staged. Though people who have a lot of experience giving an interview about the same thing often give the same answers, it doesn’t mean that will be the case with you. Your following questions may be different and this invoke a different answer. Or maybe the way how or the day when you ask a similar question that has previously been asked of the subject my give a different answer.

    I never truly understood the analogy of interviewing as a dance until I became a social salsa dancer. Then I truly understood how your movements as a leader cant always be the same with every partner if you want a successful result.

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