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Posts Tagged ‘Interview’

My Favorite Blog Posts of 2015

As a guy who has been blogging over the course of the last five years it is heartening to see stats rise from 1,500 views in 2010 to over 33,000 in 2015. But, and I presume my fellow bloggers will concur, the most popular blog posts arent neccessarily the ones the writer loves, adores or sweated over. So I give you my favorite posts of the year, even if they didn’t get the attention I wished they did.

snl40It’s Time For Your SNL Moment – Love it or hate it Saturday Night Live’s 40thanniversary show can serve as inspiration for your next radio event.

Curse of Subjective Adjectives – This is a phenomenal blog post; it’s fun, insightful, sensational, great, super, terrific, and awesome. Depending on who you are.

Paul KayeAirchecks. Dreaded Airchecks. – One of the issues that I hear from talent quite a bit is how airchecks suck. They dread them. Talent feel like they’ve been slimed by negativity afterwards when they just want some support, strategy and a plan to improve. They know what sucked. How do you fix it?

Secrets to Podcasting Success – In May 2014, Anna Sale launched the podcast “Death, Sex & Money” from the studios of WNYC. In the 10 months that has followed, Anna’s podcast has hit #1 on iTunes and she’s learned a ton about producing a successful podcast. Lucky for us she shared her revelations at Radiodays Europe and with the Radio Stuff Podcast.

What Do You Do With An Idea? – In recent weeks, clients have been sharing with me the anxieties associated with following their gut or executing on an idea.

RS 100 coverInside Radio Stuff #100 – How I landed the interview with Jonathon Brandmeier and how it all came together.

Broadcast Interview Scruples – The relationship between a broadcaster and an interview subject has triggered my curiosity. Let me tell you why.

Cirque du Radio – I was at the show Kooza last night and saw this awesome assembly of remarkable talent. It’s a really, really talented troupe. A couple things struck me as it relates to radio

Ask Larry! Episode 12

This week, Larry Gifford answers three questions about radio; When I’m interviewing a guest YOU say I switch roles from outputter to inputter, but I’m still the host right? Why isn’t talk radio more commercially viable in UK? and what’s the rule of thumb for length of interviews on a demo?

VIDEO: Ask Larry! Episode 9

This week’s Ask Larry addresses new media, new jobs, and a need for new promotional ideas.

Help! I’m Interviewing for a Job…

thetenmostcommoninterviewquestionsI received an email today from a young, rising star in radio who left an unsatisfying radio gig where he was the do-everything-guy for a boorish boss at a directionless station. He’s getting ready to interview for on-air hosting roles and was seeking advice. I was happy to help. Here were my suggestions based on my experiences at both the interviewer and the interviewee.

Be yourself. Don’t try to be who you think they want you to be. Be as authentic and real as you can be while being professional.

Speak clearly. It’s amazing how people, even hosts, tend to clam up and quiet down in an interview. The interviewer is looking for a little showmanship if they’re hiring for an on-air position. Don’t shrivel up.

Tell stories. Have a couple of well thought out stories to share that answer a question you know will be asked. Stories are important for talent to share to exemplify your ability to capture and hold the attention of the interviewer, exemplify your personality and show the certainty you have in your talent.

Role-play. Anytime I go in for an interview for a job I always role-play the interview in advance. I think of all the possible questions I could be asked including some ridiculous ones and I write out my answers.

Some to consider for on-air folk in addition to the 10 listed above:

  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What do you think of the station?
  • What makes your show special/different/successful?
  • How would you describe your show? What makes it unique?
  • How do you work with sales?
  • How do you like to be managed?

Show prep. I would have some concrete ideas on benchmarks or regular segments that you can share.

Dress up. Dress a little nicer for the interview than you expect you’ll need to if you get the gig.

Be curious.  Have at least three questions prepared to ask the interviewer at the end of the meeting.

For example…

  • What’s your time line?
  • How do you define success for this role?
  • What happened to the person who was in this position (if you don’t know)?
  • What’s the mission or vision for this station?
  • What else can I supply to make your decision easier?

Be gracious. Even if you know you’re not qualified for the job, you’re not going to get it or you don’t want it — express your gratitude for the time your interviewer took to meet with you. They could be the link to another job down the line.

Be patient. Waiting is the hardest part. However, it’s important to realize that the hiring manager wants it to happen fast too. EOE regulations, corporate HR requirements and other hurdles exist making it near impossible for hiring people to be a nimble process. A word of thumb — if a station is looking to hire someone “immediately,” the process will likely take 4 to 6 weeks.

Autopsy of a Cringe-Inducing Interview

sawatskyInterviewing is a passion of mine. I was taught technique and principles by John Sawatsky. Yes, that smiling, unassuming man in the picture is an interviewing assassin. He’s a former investigative reporter turned full-time interview guru for ESPN.

There have even been some ESPN articles about him and how he goes about analyzing interviews. (Check them out here… and here. They’re worth reading.) He also has several videos on VIMEO here.

All that to support what I’m about to say. In fact, some have already heard this, but it bears repeating. In Episode 2 of the Radio Stuff podcast (here), about 20 minutes in you can hear my autopsy of an interview gone horribly wrong. This blog post gives you a taste.

548946_525565484172149_2131648500_nThe interview was conducted by Guardian associate editor of music Michael Hann with Ginger Baker, the renowned drummer of Cream, Blind Faith and others. It was such a train wreck of an interview it inspired the Guardian to release a list of the six most excruciating interviews of all time. If you watch or listen to the Ginger Baker interview, your initial instinct will probably be that he is a real bitter pill and the interview went badly, because he’s a bad guest.

You would be wrong. Hopefully, I’ll convince you of that.

Here are some initial, basic Sawatsky principles of interviewing that I follow and preach:

  • You should always establish a goal for an interview.
  • Every question should move the interview forward towards your goal.
  • Every question should gather new information that gets you closer to your goal.
  • Questions should be open, neutral and lean.

ginger-baker-interviewThe interview, which was conducted on stage in front of a live audience, was part of a promotion for a documentary that was being released on Ginger Baker. Michael Hann’s (MH) first exchange with Ginger Baker (GB) went like this.

MH: In the film, your time in Africa was obviously very, very important to you. Was that the time when you felt most musically fulfilled?

GB: What? Who?

MH: Your time in Africa. It seems from the film to be very, very important to you. Was it?

GB: Why?

MH: You speak about the musicians and music with such warmth.

BG: Totally silly questions, really. (Applause, laughter) It was,… I just went there. I didn’t go there for any particular musical education or anything like that. I mean there were good years before I went there.  

See, I told you you’d think Ginger Baker is a little hard to swallow. Here’s why he’s not at fault. The question is closed, overloaded, includes remarks, and is rich with hyperbole. Let’s take it one at a time.

CLOSED QUESTION: Was that the time when you felt most musically fulfilled? When you ask a closed query, you are limiting the answer that the guest can give to either affirming or denying your own personal theory. Interviewers do this all the time: Were you scared? Did it hurt? Did you want to leave? And you’ll hear the guests say, “yes” and then rethink it, “no, I wasn’t scared, more nervous.” Better to ask, “how did it make you feel?” In this case, Ginger rejects the basis of the question outright.

OVERLOADED: When you are too broad with your topics it puts a lot of pressure on the guest and they often don’t know where or how to begin. In this case, what exactly does “most musically fulfilled” mean? You can even hear Ginger trying to find an entrance by asking “Why?” (Michael thinks that.) It’s too broad and big of a concept for Ginger to wrap his brain around.

REMARKS: These are superfluous statements that get in the way of the interview. In the film, your time in Africa was obviously very, very important to you. These are Michael’s impression based on what he saw on film, and how he interpreted it, but not something that Ginger has actually claimed. When you add remarks the guest typically will respond to your opinion on the subject rather than giving a genuine, personal response. There really is no reason to include a remark in a question.

HYPERBOLE: While you may be attempting to compliment your guest most people are not comfortable with over statements about themselves and will counter-balance the opposite direction in an effort to clear the record. In this case, Ginger responds to Michael’s “very, very important to you” and “most musically fulfilled” by first discrediting the question,”Totally silly questions, really.”  Secondly, he down-played the importance of Africa in his musical development, “it was,… I just went there. I didn’t go there for any particular musical education or anything like that.”  Finally, to drive home the point, he defended his career prior to the trip to Africa, “I mean there were good years before I went there.”

And that was just the first question. There’s more on the podcast. In the meantime, here are some more principles to get you started.

  • Have a goal.
  • Ask questions that are lean, neutral and open and avoid making statements or remarks
  • Ask one question at a time.
  • Be mindful of the words you use.
  • Listen to answers for follow-up.
  • Stay out-of-the-way of the guest. They are the expert, let them shine. Don’t use this time to prove to them how smart you are.

Disclaimer: there are no rules to interviewing, just principles. Most of the people considered as great interviewers ignore most of this and it will drive you crazy (Larry King, I’m looking at you.)

If you come across a murdered interview, send it my way. I’d love to perform another autopsy.

Video Blog: Ask Questions

Strange as it may seem, one of the keys to being a great interviewer is to actually ask questions.

Video Blog: Interviewing 101 – Why This Guest?

Conducting a great interview is difficult. Generally there are no bad guests only bad interviewers. What I will attempt to do over the course of time is impart some wisdom that I’ve acquired over the course of time to help make all talent, in any format better interviewers. The first lesson revolves around the question – “Why?” Why is this person a guest on your show?