What Can Make And Break An Interview

I watched a fascinating interview conducted by Charlie Rose, featuring Al Gore, where he commented on his most recent book, “The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change.” Charlie Rose is praised right at the beginning by Al Gore, saying “I think you’re the best interviewer that we have in our country today.”

Al Gore

Al Gore

This expertise is proven in the interview when Rose immediately ties in Gore’s mentioning of the “new reality” of power relationships and what choices we make as a nation with the idea that democracy has been hijacked and that it “threatens our ability to use all the tools” (Rose). He does not waste any time but cuts straight to what the public wants to know and what are the most important points that Gore makes in his book.

What is important here is that Rose lets Gore talk while Rose only interrupts to highlight points that Gore is making or to explore ideas in depth that Gore glosses over. He even catches Gore sometimes going against what he has previously said, by repeating an earlier statement which causes Gore to explain exactly what he means.

Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose

This can be seen when Rose said “But at the same time you suggest that America is the best hope” after hearing Gore just say that America has been making a lot of stupid mistakes. Rose is definitely not afraid to step in and quickly rattle off a question that will cause the interviewee to really contemplate what they are trying to say in order to get into the true meaning behind the what the interviewee is saying.

I really loved how at 16 minutes and 21 seconds in, Rose asked Gore what sounded like it was going to be another long, controversial and pointed question, but Rose immediately stopped and said “Go ahead” when he saw a pivotal cue in Gore’s body language. This cue was: “he gave me that look like ‘you know better,’” as Rose said, which was important because if Rose had ignored it, he would not have heard Gore’s great explanations, metaphors and anecdotes for the effects of pollution on the climate change. Then, after Gore’s long tirade, Rose asks the question everyone wants to know: “Where is the solution that would make Al Gore happy?”

Overall it was a very thorough and intriguing interview, that highlights all of the vital things a reporter must do to nail their interview, no matter who the guest is. The following on Chris Stark’s interview with Mila Kunis shows that Stark still has a long way to go.

In which the person being interviewed becomes the interviewer.

In which the interviewed becomes the interviewer.

I found a really bad interview with Mila Kunis, being interviewed by “a rookie BBC reporter,” Christ Stark. It was hilarious and a little sad because it showed you everything you shouldn’t do when conducting an interview. Stark said many times that he was very nervous and had to be cajoled by Kunis, when it should be him making her feel more comfortable. Then Kunis took over the interview and started posing question after question about beer, soccer and the interviewer’s weird friend’s nicknames.

The rookie BBC interviewer, Chris Stark.

The rookie BBC interviewer, Chris Stark.

Off to the side it was very obvious that the rest of the crew was trying to get Stark back on track by telling him to follow the list of questions that were provided. This resulted in an eye roll from Kunis who rapidly listed off everything the audience needed to know about the movie she was supposed to be interviewed about, almost in a very sarcastic manner. At the end Kunis assures the young and inexperienced interviewer that this is the best interview she’s ever had, and Stark ends up having learned nothing new or meaningful at all, except perhaps that he needs to learn to control the interview.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. David Perkins
    Mar 15, 2013 @ 16:36:36

    Great analysis–and I agree with you about that key moment where Rose “reading” gore… and then follows up with that short open-ended “What would make you happy?” You should look at some of rose’s interviews from 20 years ago — awful!


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