Magic interview questions

I was in Zambia conducting workshops in the Lusaka Post, a newspaper so aggressive that they called interviewing “confrontation.” Three reporters excused themselves to go confront the President of Zambia. They returned two hours later, jumping up and down in delight, and high-fiving each other. They said they had tried out some of the “magic interview questions” in my handout on the president, who for the first time gave them answers that weren’t contemptuous and full of lies. “Magic questions,” indeed.

Questions that good must be shared, so here they are:

1. “What happened?”
2. “Why?”
3. “Explain how X works.”
4. “What can you tell me about Y?”
5. “What do you remember vividly about X?”
6. “Where can I find out more about X?”
7. “Talk about that. Tell me more.”
8. “What do you expect to do about X?”
9. “What might happen next?”
10. “How does X manifest itself?”
11. “What’s the most important thing about X?”
12. “Describe your day for me.”
13. “What do you mean?”
14. “How would you explain X to Y?”
15. “What does X mean to you / to the organization / to Y?”
16. “How do you know?”

[Got any magic questions of your own?]

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Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 1:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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