Do’s & Dont’s of Interviewing

Prepared by Mary McQuire of Carleton Univrsity for NPR’s News Excellence Satellite Course


1. Be prepared.

2. Ask direct questions.

3. Ask simple questions… ones that start with why, how, and what.

4. Ask for details, examples & anecdotes.

5. Listen, listen, listen—carefully & quietly.

6. Keep opinions to yourself.

7. Use silence effectively.

8. Ask questions that make people think instead of ones that make them react.

9. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t understand” or Tell me more about that.”

10. Ask the question the listener would ask.


1. Don’t make statements. Ask questions.

2. Don’t ask double barreled questions.

3. Don’t ask long, rambling, overloaded questions.

4. Don’t interrupt.

5. Don’t ask self-answering questions.

6. Don’t use the jargon of your interviewee.

7. Don’t be afraid of silence.

8. Don’t settle for unjustified accusations.

9. Don’t ask questions that begin with “was” “did” “would” or “had”.

10. Don’t listen out loud “OK…uh-huh”.