Last week I had the privilege of interviewing Pastor Todd Bishop on the topic of eternity. What happens after you die? Whether you believe in eternity or not, you have to admit, you have at least thought about it once!
Back to the interview part. I’d never conducted an interview before so this was a total first for me! Of course I had the chance to re-watch the video and, looking back, there are some things I would stick with and some things I would do differently. After all was said and done, I couldn’t help but think that interviews can teach us a lot about the social interactions we have day to day. Here are some parallels I found between interviewing and carrying on a genuinely effective conversation. We may not cover everything, but let’s pull out some helpful principles.
1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
INTERVIEW: Believers and unbelievers. Different races, age groups and socioeconomic statuses. At church, we have a broad audience. Our main goal wasn’t to appease anyone but to open up lines of communication, and get people wondering and into God’s word. Let’s be real. Eternity is a hard topic to discuss because it can’t always be summed up by a simple explanation. With our audience in mind, we felt that if we were going to talk about eternity, the best way to do that would be through conversation. Speaking truth and being sensitive to our audience were things we wanted to master, and I think we were able to do that via interview format.
DAY TO DAY: Getting to know someone? Closing a deal? Persuading someone to see your perspective? Just hanging out with a friend? Ask yourself what your main goal is. Whether you just want to spend quality time with someone or you want to impress your boss, without realizing, you have an end goal or result in mind.
The way you present certain things will, and sometimes should, change based on your audience. Keep in mind, your content doesn’t change. The facts that you are stating don’t change. It’s the way you package it. It’s important also to know when to say things, but we can leave that for another post. Whether you’re chatting with a friend, meeting an individual for the first time, or placed in a group conversation, it’s important to read your audience.
2. CHOOSING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
INTERVIEW: Asking the right questions is important. When we sat down to figure out what questions we wanted to ask, we didn’t say, “hmmm what do we want to talk about?” It wasn’t about us, it was about our audience. What are the questions they ask the most? What would be most helpful to them? Based off of that, we developed our questions. I think this point translates to many things in life. Be intentional about asking questions, and not just asking questions for the fun of it, but choosing the right questions.
DAY TO DAY: People like to talk about themselves… 😬 As selfish as it may sound, for the majority, that’s the truth. People just don’t want to hear about your life, your issues and your views- so why not find out more about them? When you take interest in people, they will open up to you more, especially over time. By asking the right questions you discover more, which will help you with point #3.
3. TRANSITIONING FROM QUESTION TO QUESTION
INTERVIEW: This is the fun part. It’s kind of like navigating a car or steering a ship (I have only done one of those things). Even though you have your list of questions in a specific order, when the interview is actually happening, your order might get thrown off. Give yourself permission to be f l e x i b l e . You want your questions to fit and flow naturally. Don’t force a question if another question will suit as a better transition. Guide and give your interviewee enough time to respond and expand. Actually listen to what they are saying! This will help you to GPS your way through the conversation.
DAY TO DAY: I think this is why some conversations take a turn for the awkward! Haha. People don’t know how to transition from one topic to the next, which leaves you with awkward silence or petting someone’s dog (get me out of here)! I am not saying that I am the master of this, but it is so easy to be distracted these days. We are really great at appearing like we are listening but, in reality, we are not. TIP: actually listen to the person you are conversing with. This will allow you to pick out a topic or sentence that you can expand on.
However, if you’re talking about ripe tomatoes and then switch to talking about the weather in South Carolina… that’s weird. I mean, I’ll go with the flow, but bro, I’m not sure how you got from point A to point B.
4. SMILE AND ENGAGE
INTERVIEW: When I shoot a promo video, smiling is easy. You are excited and basically smile the whole time. When you are shooting an interview, you can’t really do that, especially if you are talking about a heavy topic. “I’m sorry, Biblically speaking, your pet fish isn’t going to heaven.” SMILE. But you can’t not smile or not interact, because then you just look like a zombie. You have to find that in-between! This can be hard because it may feel unnatural at first. Lord knows, it still kind of is for me. Smiling and engaging lets the other person know that you are still with them. This is an easy one to translate.
DAY TO DAY: How many of you have listened to someone speak to you while you are on your phone? GUILTY! ALL OF YOU! Kidding 🙂 Long and short of it, try to give people your undivided attention. Do you know how much that means to people these days? Smile at them, nod your head, make eye contact, give them a “hmm.” When you smile at someone, you are communicating to them that their presence brings you happiness. Who doesn’t like that feeling?
Overall, my first experience interviewing was fun and I definitely learned something new. Beyond that, our discussion about eternity was pretty cool and, I believe, a successful way to discuss a heavy topic in church. To see the full interview, click the video below.