Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Worst Interview Ever? Top this.

Probably not the worst ever, really. But a great example of how difficult they can be!

Luke Burbank, with NPR, interviewed the Icelandic band Sigur Ros with regrettable results.

View the train wreck for yourself. (It's even worse if you close your eyes and hear how it must have sounded on the radio.)

Please understand - I'm not being critical. My initial reaction to watching this was to thank God that most of my interviews are between me and one other person (or a roomful of people at the most). This guy is on NPR. Yeah, and now the INTERNET.

So, what has he learned from this experience? See the footage of Jancee Dunn offer suggestions as to how this interview could have been a little bit better. And she's had lots of help from commenters and bloggers, who are, as always, willing to point out where they think it went astray. :)

So let's join them!

I thought this was GREAT learning. GREAT. A no-cost course in what to watch out for in the potentially dangerous interview waters. It's a little like the cartoon in the Sunday paper. "Can you spot the 8 things wrong with this picture?"

So, what can you find?

Hey, it's in the spirit of learning folks. That could have been any one of us! Remind me not to get into radio broadcasting, 'kay?


Carolyn Erickson said...

Hint: One problem I noticed is something I learned the hard way.

The interviewer uses a lot of yes and no questions.

So then, you'll be dead in the water if your subject just chooses to say "yes" or "no."

If you do slip up and get a dreaded one-word reply, try to turn it around on them with a one-word follow-up question: "Why?"

Sometimes it can help get you out of a jam.

Unless, of course, the interview subject just answers with "Because." :D

Dawn Allcot said...

LOL!! I will have to remember that.

Esp. writing for

I could just imagine getting that dreaded reply:
"Because I'm the mother, that's why!"

Or... "Because I said so!"


Dawn Allcot said...

grimace... okay, after leaving my wisecracks, I listened to the is my assessment.

First--I honestly felt pain for the interviewer. I've been in interviews that *started* like this, but, by changing my approach, managed to save them. They weren't comfortable, but at least I got the information I needed!

It seems, to some degree, like he didn't do his homework (I could be wrong) and he came across as uncomfortable from the start. He fills in with "kinda" and "I mean" and other filler that doesn't exude confidence. The interviewer needs to take the reigns of the interview and show up as a leader--he does not.

Also, he is giving the interview subjects too many choices: [was it this] or [was it that]. I find, esp. in interviews where language might be a barrier, keep it simple. Don't put words in the subjects' mouths. And keep phrasing simple if you aren't interviewing the subject in their native language.

His questions ramble too much, by the time he reaches the end, the subjects aren't sure how to reply.

The entire show leads me to wonder what went on "off-screen" prior to the interview that set things off on such a bad foot. Based on the expressions on the band members' faces, they don't have a lot of respect for the host, and I'm not sure why.

What would I have done differently?
-Showed a knowledge of the band by speaking in more specific terms from the start. Describe "their type of music" better, both for listeners and to show I knew what I was talking about.

-Exuded confidence by keeping my questions short, not rambling, and not using filler words.

-He is trying to get them talking about the creative process, which is a tough thing to explain. I perhaps would have started off with some "tangible" questions to get them comfortable.

-If they gave me answer that was less than I wanted, I would have moved on quickly, rather than leaving that uncomfortable silence hanging there. Silence can be good, it is an often-used interviewing technique to get your subject to "fill in" the silence, but experience and intuition should tell you when it is not working. At that point, it is up to the interviewer to move the interview along.

Wow... I'm saying all this and coming off as a know-it-all, like I've never had a bad interview. That is SOOOO not the case. It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. I still believe that something happened off-screen to set the whole stage for this trainwreck, and my heart goes out to the host!!

Carolyn Erickson said...

It's enlightening, isn't it?!

In the second clip, where Jancee Dunn offers her suggestions, he talks a little bit about what happened before the show. He said he came off like a fan rather than an equal.

Sounds kind of like what you are saying about being the leader.

I hadn't thought of that aspect, to tell you the truth. But I am starting to understand it now.

Still learning! These kind of behind-the-scenes videos sure help.

One of my recent interviews had to be worse.

I was writing an advertorial. During the interview I asked, "What makes [your company] different from the others in the area?"

"Nothing really. We all pretty much offer the same thing."

WAH! (The whole interview was like that. SO HARD to write a sales pitch from that! That I got an article written at all was a miracle, that's all I can say.)