Interviewing Techniques

Interviewing and questioning style take a lot of consideration which helps provoke the answers which you want for your primary research. It is up to the interviewee to think about the response he wants which may require a different type of question which can be closed, leading or open for examples of questioning styles.


Closed questions usually create a simple “yes” or “no” response meaning the interviewee does not have to go into full detail on their answer and instead quick short answer. These can be used by interviewers to get a quick response and a general idea before asking different type of questions which require a more detailed answer.


Leading questions are designed by the interviewer to get a response that they are looking for and want confirmed by the interviewee. They will require the interviewee to go into more than they would do with closed question and sometime lead the interviewee to defend their question.


Open questions cannot be answered with a “Yes” or “No” reply. These type of questions require the interviewee to really think about the question and forces them to answer in detail. By using the open question technique, the interviewee will normally receive an opinionated response as they feel they will need to specify and back up their answer.

Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux is an example of a person who uses these question and interviewing style to great effect. I used a video documentary of Theroux talking about Fresno “the city addicted to crystal meth) to look at how Theroux uses these methods to manipulated his interviewees answers for the interview. Louis Theroux gave an example of a Leading question asking the drug user if her kids “know that you get high everyday?” This is a leading question because Theroux states the fact that she does in fact get high everyday and prompts the person to answer in a certain way in which this case is in guilt. Louis Theroux then follows up this leading question by using silence which makes the interviewee give a more detailed response and gives a real sense of guilt which leads on to an emotional response from the drug user he is interviewing. As seen in this example, Theroux uses the children a couple times with different people in this documentary to provoke an emotional response which forces the interviewees to give a more in detail response and get the persons true feelings on the matter. This all helps and is an example of Louis Theroux creating rapport with the people he is interviewing.

Louis Theroux also used a lot of open and closed questions in his interviews such as asking an ex drug user in therapy “Did you ever go on binges while you were staying up?” In which she answered “Yeah i did” and Theroux followed up with an open question “How long would you stay up for?” The first question gets a short response “yeah” because Louis Theroux uses a closed question which gets a quick short answer so we as the viewers get a quick general idea of her situation and then he follows up with the open question. By using the open question, Theroux is making it so the interviewee cannot answer in one or two words like the closed question and instead has to go into more detail which helps us understand her position and feeling to the lack of rest she was receiving due to the drug intake.

Jeremy Paxman

I looked at Jeremy Paxman’s interview with Conrad Black in which Paxman does not make any attempt to create a rapport with his interviewee. Throughout the interview Jeremy Paxman keeps accusing Conrad Black saying “you are a convicted fraudster?” Jeremy Paxman uses this leading question to confront Conrad Black as his response is very defensive in which Paxman provokes an angry response from his interviewee by accusing him of being a criminal whilst Conrad Black goes out of the way to claim his innocence in the situation. This question by Paxman is leading because he is accusing Conrad Black of being a Fraudster rather than asking him which creates an angry response by Conrad Black.

Jeremy Paxman also uses open questions in this interview asking Conrad Black “Do you think prison made you a better person?” This is the opening question of the interview which makes the interviewee talk a out their experiences within prison. This question is aimed to get Conrad Blacks feeling of how it has affected him which helps Conrad Black being confident of answering questions. This question is in between a closed and open question due to the fact it could have been answered with a yes and no answer but Paxman asks looking to get a personal response from Conrad Black. Later in the interview Conrad Black says that others in the same situation wouldn’t hesitate in “getting up and smashing your face in” in which Jeremy replies “well you go ahead” which shows the negative rapport created in this interview and shows that Jeremy Paxman has really gotten to Conrad Black which will lead to Conrad Black trying to prove his innocence in the interview.


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