How to deal with the difficult interviewer

Embarrass them with politeness

This is the moment that Channel 4’s journalist and news presenter @fatimamanji confronts Arron Banks outside the BBC. Mr Banks had just appeared on the Andrew Marr Show — an action that BBC was criticised for as allegations surrounding Mr Bank’s Brexit campaign funding has been referred to the National Crime Agency.

Mr Banks denies any wrongdoing over an £8m loan to his Leave.EU campaign in Britain’s 2016 EU referendum.

@fatimamanji keeps her composure and continues to press. Doorstepping isn’t an easy task, particularly when you’re on camera and you have to be prepared for any outcome.

Mr Banks could relent to @fatimamanji’s persistence and she could get her interview. Otherwise, as might be expected, he’ll obfuscate, condescend, and belittle. It doesn’t work. @fatimamanji keeps her eye on the task in hand and a fundamental premise of journalism: people don’t have to talk to journalists. Journalists have no automatic right to compel anyone to talk. Hence the natural, yet difficult-in-practice approach is to be courteous whilst conversely her interviewee‘s superciliousness appears patronising, and rude.

This is an interview to add to other collections. I’ve had my own share of the awkward when I was a journalist/ producer. One with Conservative Brian Mawhinney MP, the new Secretary of State for Transport in 1994. He refused to answer any questions on a new motorway. The Q&A became a spectacle of “you seem to know more, you tell me”.

My other most memorable moment was interviewing one of the senior members of South Africa’s political hit squad, Dirk Coetzee, in johannesburg in 1996. The interview captured on video and for a newspaper seemed civil, but off camera he said things that clearly unsettled me and then the handshake that followed in the context of what he said was chilling. Keeping your cool @fatimamanji is the way forward.

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This 10 pointer for a job interview has cross over value for any reporter too.

Written by

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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