The Art of Interviewing by Tanya Nellestein

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Please note this OWL has been cancelled but Tanya shares her insights here with us!

A profile story is a portrait of a person in words. Getting it right is not always easy, regardless of how interesting or newsworthy the person might be.

Interviewing is an artform –  a set of skills you need to master in order to find your style and rhythm to ensure a great outcome every time (okay, most of the time. You can’t get blood from a stone!). As well as the facts, you also want to capture a sense of the person’s personality and mood.

How much background research should I do? What questions should I ask? How should I record the interview? What should I leave out of the interview? The questions go on… Before you run screaming, the answer to all of the above is pretty simple! Get your head around the basic skills – then practice!

Two girls in their twenties studying on a terrace with a drink and a computer. They are two white girls with brown hair. Terrace in light colours and white wood furniture.

In The Art of Interviewing we will briefly cover the structure of an article and how to identify the right publications to pitch to. Don’t worry if you’ve just completed 800 Words – you will be able to get straight to the next stage of equipment and technical know-how.

We’ll cover the background research and preparation, as well as how to get in touch with a potential interview subject. Participants will have an opportunity to turn theory into practise by interviewing a fellow participant and putting together a short profile.

If there’s someone you really want to interview for a piece you are putting together – go for it. I’ll happily provide feedback on anyone’s work in progress. You can submit as many questions and draft articles as you want and I will give feedback on all. Participants are also encouraged to give each other feedback, especially on what’s working and what might need a bit more fine tuning.

Not interested in writing articles for magazines and online platforms? No problem, interviewing is a skill you can use for many things, including research for your novels. It’s also a great resource to have for blogs and newsletters – or perhaps an article for Hearts Talk. One of the absolute highlights of being a freelance journalist is getting to interview other authors. Not only have I written some great profiles, I’ve learnt so much about the craft of writing.

Whether you want to supplement your income with freelance writing, or add another tool to your arsenal, The Art of Interviewing has something for everyone.

Unfortunately this OWL has been cancelled for 2020. But if it interests you, let us know and perhaps it will make the cut for 2021!

Tanya Nellestein has studied Freelance Journalism and her work has appeared in Sunday Life and NSW Business Chamber quarterly magazine Courage, as well as being a regular contributor for Blush Magazine. Tanya is also an accomplished presenter and workshop facilitator and has almost completed a CERT IV in Training and Assessment.

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