Writing Follow Up Questions For Interviews.


The purpose of an interview is to Inform & Persuade

The interviewer needs to ensure that the answers are Clear and Convincing

If they aren’t the interviewer should ask Follow-Up questions to clarify the answers.

Oprah Winfrey is a well-known talk show host who has interviewed many prominent people. Read through the excerpts her interviews and observe how she uses follow-up questions to ensure the interview is clear and convincing.

In this excerpt, Oprah is asking Steve about his attempts to overcome his drug addiction. Identify how she clarifies his answers

Oprah: What did drugs do for you that fame and money and adoration couldn’t?

Steven: They made me feel like a rock star before I was one. Because I thought that’s what rock stars did—fake it till you make it.

Oprah: You’re two years sober now?

Steven: Yeah. I had 12 years before.

Oprah: And until you get back to that point—until you safely make it to 12 years again—is there always a fear that you might slip?

Steven: You know, I just have to keep it honest and open. ‘Cause I do feel like doing things I used to do. It’s called euphoric recall. I’ve got to be careful with that. But I’m so locked and loaded right now in AA and my 12-step program that I’m good.

Oprah: But that doesn’t mean you will never get high again.

Steven: No, it doesn’t. That’s the thing. I know I won’t, but I have to be careful.

Oprah: When you say, “I know I won’t,” you mean you believe you won’t, you think you won’t, you don’t want to?

Steven: I mean I’ve set myself up with a sponsor I talk to every night. I’ve got a bunch of great people in my life who are sober as well. They’ve been to the dark side of the moon. I love them. And I go to meetings.

Oprah: What happened when you got the call for American Idol?

Steven: I’m actually the one who put it out there…I said to my manager, “Get me something to do when I come out. If I’m going in there, I want something to do when I get out.” I’d been talking to Marti Frederiksen, who I write songs with, and it turned out he was writing songs with Kara [DioGuardi], who was one of the show’s judges. And I went and wrote a song with them as soon as I got out of rehab. And they said, “You gotta do American Idol. You’d be a perfect judge.”

Oprah: Is it true that when they called, you said, “Is it still getting good ratings?”

Steven: I did. I also thought, “Am I going to take over for this grump who likes to put people down?”

Oprah: You mean Simon Cowell?

Steven: Yes. The last thing I heard Simon say [on the show] was, “I don’t like you, and I don’t like country and western.” I thought, “How dare you?” That’s not what music’s about. Not liking a genre? That’s really not nice.

Checklist when writing an interview

  1. Are all the meanings of the words and phrases used CLEAR?
  2. Do I know exactly HOW an event occurred
  3. Are all the STEPS of the plan clear?
  4. Has the interviewee given EXAMPLES to illustrate their point?
  5. Has the interviewee used EVIDENCE to support his claim/ opinion?
  6. Have opposing views/ COUNTER-ARGUMENTS been brought up when necessary?
  7. Has the interviewee given a satisfactory response to these?
  8. Are there good REASONS offered?
  9. Are the CAUSES for something clearly explained?

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