Sunday, January 19, 2014

In Fear of Interviews and Interviewing

This week I interviewed one of my friends for an article I’m writing. I love writing articles, putting the words together in the right order and polishing it until it flows perfectly. But I’m terrified of interviewing people. The very thought of asking someone a bunch of nosy questions fills me with fear and dread. What if I do it wrong? What if I forget to bring my notebook? What if I can’t use any of the material in my article? Or worse, what if I have to redo the whole interview? Going through all that again would be a nightmare!

For a whole week before the interview I write and rewrite all the questions, right up to the very day. Should I write the bare questions? Or should I try to write them in such a way that I can read them straight into the conversation? I decide to record the interview with my phone so that I can listen to it later. But then I worry about whether it has enough memory to record a whole interview and whether it’s going to pick up the voices well enough. This preparing for the interview is hard work.

The day arrives. I’ve got the name of the café where I’m meeting my friend. I check my bag about fifty million times. Am I sure my pen’s going to work? I’ve got ten of them, just to be sure. Phone? Check. Notebook? Check. I make sure I leave the house extra early. What if I’m not able to find the cafe and end up being late? That would be terrible! Instead I turn up at the café a whole quarter of an hour early and have to sit in the hot sun outside, waiting. Well, better safe than sorry, isn’t that right?

In my head I rehearse how to start the interview. It needs to be just right. My friend arrives just as I get it worked out. We go into the café together. I don’t think I’ll have coffee. I’ve got enough to think about without trying to have a drink at the same time. What if I spill it all over my phone or notebook and mess everything up? It’s time to begin the interview, time to pull out that perfect start I prepared. Help! I’ve forgotten it completely. I stutter the first question out. What a great way to begin.

A street performer plays the guitar right outside the café. Cars drive past every few minutes or so. What if they block out the sound of our voices on the recording? Every few minutes or so I inch the phone closer and closer to my friend, hoping she doesn’t notice. My sweaty hands slip on the pen and dampen my notebook pages.  And then, finally, it’s all over. I sit back, turn the phone off and take deep breaths of relief. I’ve done it! I can stop worrying. Until the next interview at any rate…


  1. Try being on the other side of that.
    I'm sure you did great! If you wrote and recorded, you have everything.

    1. I think that would be the only thing that would be worse than interviewing someone! I've checked my notes and recording obsessively, so hopefully you're right and I have everything. Step three, stress over writing the article! Actually, that's the easy bit I think.