For Interviewing: Speaking, Listening, and Learning for Professional Life Second Edition Rob Anderson, Saint Louis University and

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CHAPTER 2: Before Skills: Appreciations and Habits of Dialogue
The nitty-gritty
Chapter 2 explicitly introduces what we term a “skills-plus” approach to interviewing. In it, we would like students to understand that interviewing is an artistic and creative activity that depends as much on what interviewers and interviewees assume and appreciate as on what they are trained to do. Many, if not most, crucial interview decisions are made on the spot; they need to be improvised to fit an unanticipated context, an unexpected emotional reaction from a partner, or a fresh topic that arose serendipitously. We’ve found that students more readily build skills and practice helpful interviewing behaviors if they first realize how successful interviewing is built upon helpful attitudes and a genuine desire to understand another person. Thus, this chapter introduces the appreciations of curiosity, knowledge, diversity, flexibility, and empathy; in “Beyond the Basics,” these factors are integrated with some basic research findings in rules theory and the cooperative principle in conversation. You can make two especially helpful links for students here, relative to their other classes. First, because of its emphasis on diversity, empathy, and pluralistic worldviews, this chapter could be taught almost entirely as a lesson in intercultural understanding (see resource suggestions at the end of this section) should an instructor choose that orientation and supply additional examples. We’ve chosen to integrate cultural issues throughout the book, but teachers who prefer a specific chapter on this topic will find this one readily adaptable. Second, you may want to draw on your students’ experiences in interpersonal or communication theory courses, in which the dynamics of rules, coordinated management of meaning, and conversational discourse are discussed in more depth. This chapter invites ready application from such coursework.
Suggestions for “Trying Out Your Skills” and “Making Your Decision” boxes
— The TOYS box provides a sample interview for analysis. Its purpose is not to ask students whether they identify with one or the other characters, or agree or disagree with them, but to stimulate discussion about the characteristics of dialogue. See if you can encourage students not to discuss this case globally through generalizations; ask them to link their opinions to actual comments and interchanges between Delores Wilson and Michael Van Allen.
— The MYD box helps students think about and discuss their own perceptions of a multicultural organization, and how they might be able to understand its dynamics more effectively through interviewing. If you discuss this case in class, you may want to preview the later chapter on research interviewing for students.
Additional activities and discussion questions
Here’s a simple 20–30 minute exercise that can illustrate dialogue-oriented interviewing between two people who have different perspectives on a topic that concerns them both:
— Tell the class you’d like to be interviewed, press conference style, about your attitudes and practices concerning grading.
— Ask for two or three volunteer interviewers; they’ll be seated in the middle of the room with you and one additional empty chair. Other students sit in a semicircle or circle around you and the interviewers.
— The empty chair (similar to fishbowl exercises in small-group communication) is for anyone else in class who has a question for you. The person should come to the center, sit until he or she asks the question, and then retire to a seat in the outer circle so that someone else can ask another question.
— Most questions will come from your volunteers. Try to answer them enthusiastically and expansively, discussing your preferences, likes and dislikes, optimism for the class, and pet peeves.
— Lead the class in a discussion of how well the volunteers and other students kept the focus on your grading attitudes and practices, while still expressing aspects of the volunteers’ personalities and attitudes. For example, did you hear yourself saying things you hadn’t thought of before in those words, things that might be especially helpful for the later cooperation of the class? Finish by complimenting volunteers on their willingness to encounter a difficult topic honestly, and discuss whichever qualities of dialogic communication you found in the interaction.
Additional resources
This chapter is a particularly appropriate place to have a focused discussion of diversity, the cross-cultural assumptions and challenges of professional interviewing, and other issues of a multicultural society. Consider the following sources:
Arendell, T. (1997). Reflections on the researcher-researched relationship: A woman interviewing men. Qualitative Sociology, 20, 341–368.
Auletta, K. (1998, April 20). In the company of women. The New Yorker, 72–78. (This interesting article describes Ken Auletta’s interviews with corporate women executives in the communication industry; they discuss recent patterns of male-female talk and power relationships.)
Birbeck, D., & Drummond, M. (2005). Interviewing, and listening to the voices of, very young children on body image and perception of self. Early Child Development & Care, 175, 579–596.
Denzin, N. K. (2001). The reflexive interview and a performative social science. Qualitative Research, 1, 23–46.
Isaacs, W. N. (1993). Taking flight: Dialogue, collective thinking, and organizational learning. Organizational Dynamics, 22, 24–39.
Kadushin, A. (1997). The social work interview: A guide for human service professionals (4th ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. (See Chapter 12 for an especially good chapter on cross-cultural interviewing, including sections on interviews involving race and class differences, sexual preference issues, “aged” clients, and children.)
Kaufmann, B. J. (1992). Feminist facts: Interview strategies and political subjects in ethnography. Communication Theory, 2, 187–206.
Langellier, K. M., & Hall, D. L. (1989). Interviewing women: A phenomenological approach to feminist communication research. In K. Carter & C. Spitzack (Eds.), Doing research on women’s communication: Perspectives on theory and method (pp. 193–220). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Rhodes, P. J. (1994). Race-of-interviewer effects: A brief comment. Sociology, 28, 547–558.
Schuman, H., & Converse, J. (1971). The effects of black and white interviewers on black responses in 1968. Public Opinion Quarterly, 35, 48–68.
The ABC-TV daytime talk and interview show The View — cohosted by five women, including the famed interviewer Barbara Walters — contains numerous discussions of intercultural issues and their effects on politics, the news, and the arts. Many guests are themselves famous interviewers and newsmakers.

Sample exam questions: multiple choice, true-false/explain, identification, essay

Multiple Choice
1. A definition of communication competence must include:

A. knowledge, skill, and motivation (*)

B. being nice, being warm, and being human

C. respect, genuineness, and empathy

D. analysis, critical thinking, and rational judgment

E. diversity, flexibility, and compromise

2. Dialogue, as studied in interviewing, is:

A. a state that is equally valuable at all times, no matter what the relationship

B. a state that is fine for everyday friendships, but impractical in the career setting

C. a mutually interactive relationship involving “strangeness” that is changing continually (*)

D. a mutually responsible nexus of interlocking demands people make on each other

E. another word for two people talking with each other

3. Credibility helps you determine someone’s potential persuasiveness by analyzing:

A. listener’s estimates of that person’s expertise and trustworthiness (*)

B. the speaker’s personality traits of aggressiveness and intelligence

C. a speaker’s intelligence quotient

D. the plan a speaker develops to influence other people

E. his or her willingness to engage in dialogue

4. A communication rule is usually followed; if it is not, the following usually happens:

A. someone tries to teach the person how to follow the communication rule better

B. the person who dictated the rule in the first place will get angry

C. someone reminds the rule breaker to change his or her behavior to conform to the clearly codified expectations

D. nothing overt: communication rules develop through subtle social processes and they are broken often (*)

E. some sort of clear-cut penalty for the offender

5. Multiculturalism reminds us that:

A. cultures cannot be multiplied in a given context without making communication much more ineffective

B. other people’s cultural habits and expectations appear to them to be as normal as yours appear to you (*)

C. interviewers are not able to communicate effectively across multiple cultural differences

D. we must constantly be on the lookout for how other people’s cultural assumptions are wrong

E. pluralistic worldviews are impossible in today’s postmodern media environment

6. Dialogue is mainly a set of techniques we can use to improve organizations. T___ F___ Why?
7. Monologue or monologic speaking is especially important to interviewers, because it demonstrates leadership. T___ F___ Why?
8. In most formal interviews, interviewees tend to control the “resource factors.” T___ F___ Why?
9. Flexibility in interviewing involves memorizing a wide range of possible behaviors in order to be ready for them in your partner’s communication. T___ F___ Why?
10. You ask someone in an interview a brief factual question; the answer given is a five-minute elaboration of how the underlying problem came into existence. The respondent has probably violated the conversational maxim of “manner.” T___ F___ Why?
11. High-flex communicator
12. Empathy
13. Cooperative principle
14. Skills-plus interviewing
15. Pluralistic worldview
16. Define the contributions made by curiosity and empathy to effective interviewing. Discuss the relationship between these two “appreciations” for a hypothetical interviewer in an interviewing situation of your own choosing.
17. What is the difference between content knowledge and process knowledge? Describe this distinction in terms of a personal hobby or interest of your own.
18. Define/describe communication reticence, and list three to four ways it could negatively affect an interviewer and three to four ways it could negatively affect an interviewee in an extended information gathering interview.

CHAPTER 3: Skillful Listening
The nitty-gritty
Listening is the skill at the core of interviewing, the one crucial process that bonds both interviewers and interviewees and is used equally by them both. Listening is the conversational skill that will keep others talking and ensure them that they’re being well understood; further, without effective listening by interviewees, the most skillfully phrased questions miss their mark. Chapter 3 defines listening as an active process with five complementary functions. The material helps students practice a form of listening that not only allows them to understand speakers better, but also demonstrates that understanding more visibly. In “Beyond the Basics,” three more advanced topics of interpersonal theory are related to listening: immediacy influences in face-to-face talk, interpersonal confirmation, and the philosophical implications of listening. If you choose to assign this somewhat difficult material, try to emphasize its important links to other courses in the communication program; by doing so you will stimulate interest in other faculty members’ courses and encourage students to see that theoretical and practical matters are not divorced in the study of communication.
Suggestions for “Trying Out Your Skills” and “Making Your Decision” boxes
— The first TOYS box asks students to examine a doctor-patient interaction, looking for what we term recognition skills (attentiveness to meaning cues) and regulation skills (attentiveness to how a conversation is managed; turn-taking cues, etc.). Is it helpful for the doctor to assume out loud that not seeing the patient for a long time means that he or she has been healthy? Does the doctor do well in specifying meaning when discussing the swelling of the leg? How does the doctor know when to ask this patient for information?
— The second TOYS box describes a variant of “listening triads,” and is self-explanatory. It’s probably a good idea to make a special effort to remind people not to choose stories that are potentially too emotionally involving for them. Even after this caveat, you can expect that a few students who tell stories before the class will become much more emotional than expected and will start to cry. While crying is not a negative occurrence in the classroom, it could be embarrassing for some speakers.
— The MYD box presents two situations in which interviewers must be sensitive to nuance and ethics. The first (student interviewing a college president) asks students to think about how they’d check out a potential contradiction in a touchy interview situation — one in which the potential to offend is fairly high. The second (interviewing a KKK member) uses an actual interview to ask students how much, and how, an interviewer’s “real” feelings should be expressed when interviewing someone he or she disagrees with. Is this primarily an ethical issue of honesty or sincerity, or primarily an informational issue of effective interview behavior? Note: It would be possible to role-play either or both of these situations in class, prior to a discussion.
Additional activities and discussion questions
A common listening/interviewing exercise challenges students to listen for what is not said in an interview and to use what they do know to infer what they don’t know. It can be used in a variety of ways; it works well to introduce students to names and preferences early in the term (taking one or two entire class periods of 50–75 minutes), and it can also be used as a demonstration performed by several teams of two (less than one class period).
• Have a brief discussion with the entire class about what clues in someone’s life situations or behavior give the best insights into their personalities; in other words, in the group’s opinion, which details about a life give you the best clues to knowing who the person is? (Opinions don’t need to be justified.) Then, each person has about three minutes to decide which clues he or she thinks are best, and shape them into notes — a brief interview schedule.
• Students break into teams of two, with about five to 10 minutes allotted for each to interview the other about his or her likes and dislikes.
• After the interviews, each student has two minutes to introduce the other, while standing behind the interviewee. Any erroneous information can be identified as such by the nonverbal behavior of the interviewee, whose face is seen by the group but can’t be seen by the introducer/interviewer. Then, the rest of the class asks questions of the introducer about the interviewee’s likes and dislikes — things that weren’t covered in the introduction. The introducer has to infer the answers using what he or she knows to be true. This exercise provides good examples of listening beyond the actual details, and apt examples perhaps of overgeneralization and stereotyping, too. Yet it happens in a nonthreatening environment when these things can be discussed more readily.
• One variation is to have the introducer speak in the imagined first person when introducing the partner (if Larry introduces Ronette, he says something like, “Hi, my name is Ronette and I come to Loyola from Cincinnati, Ohio. My family was . . .”). This breaks class tension, generates some good-natured smiles, and allows you to make some points about decentering, identification, and empathy, too.
Additional resources
Beatty, M., & Payne, S. (1984). Listening comprehension as a function of cognitive complexity: A research note. Communication Monographs, 51, 85–89.
Haidet, P. (2007). Jazz and the “art” of medicine: Improvisation in the medical encounter. Family Medicine, 5, 164–169.
Journal of the International Listening Association contains many relevant articles, oriented toward both research perspectives and practical applications. Check recent issues for trends in the field.
Ostermeier, T. H. (1993). Perception of nonverbal cues in dialogic listening in an intercultural interview. Journal of the International Listening Association, 64–75.
Taylor, L., et al. (1988). Better interviews: The effects of supervisor training on listening and collaborative skills. Journal of Education Research, 82, 89–95.
Wolvin, A. D., & Coakley, C. G. (1991). A survey of the status of listening training in some Fortune 500 corporations. Communication Education, 40, 152–164.
Zimmerman, J., & Coyle, V. (1991, March/April). Council: Reviving the art of listening. Utne Reader, 79–85.
Local television stations often schedule interviews in which celebrities visiting a town for a show or lecture are questioned by anchors or news reporters who are only minimally familiar with a given celebrity’s best-seller, new CD, play, or scientific research. (Few have the time for the full-fledged research that supports national interviewers like Charlie Rose, whose show is carried by more than 200 PBS stations.) These local interviews, often as brief as three to five minutes, tend to appear in early morning or noontime news broadcasts. They are good places to look for examples of sloppy listening or particularly focused listening from local TV personalities. Warning: Make sure you avoid snide or derisive comments about these professionals, who are asked to perform under a great deal of pressure. It might be wise to try to find both positive and negative examples from the same interviewer(s). Remember too that communication students often intern at these stations and later may interact with television personalities personally.
Sample exam questions: multiple choice, true-false/explain, identification, essay
Multiple Choice
1. The kind of listening that journalists are most likely to use in writing their stories is:

A. appreciative

B. therapeutic

C. salutary

D. comprehensive (*)

E. conceptual

2. The best statement about the relationship between immediacy and confirmation is that:

A. there is no difference; these are synonyms for the same process

B. immediacy, verbal and nonverbal closeness, can lead to feelings of confirmation (*)

C. confirmation is the process by which communicators know they have been understood accurately, and this rarely happens immediately

D. immediacy is only nonverbal, while confirmation is only verbal

E. confirmation is only nonverbal, while immediacy is only verbal

3. Listening can be defined as:

A. the physiological process of communicators hearing sounds and noting them

B. the active process through which communicators process stimuli, interpret them as messages, and use them to construct meanings (*)

C. the active process by which communicators remember what they are told

D. the interpretive process by which meanings are transferred accurately from person to person in conversational situations

E. sensitive and humane involvement in another person’s troubles, in which the listener is identifying with the other person emotionally

4. Sometimes, messages that aren’t wanted or necessary interfere with your ability to listen to what you want to focus on. These unwanted and distracting messages are known as:

A. communication debris

B. communication noise (*)

C. communication disconfirmations

D. allogenic dysfunctions

E. bad metamessages

5. The skill of critical listening known as “clarification” is most similar to:

A. paraphrasing

B. active listening

C. I-messages

D. clearing

E. both A and B (*)

6. We don’t just listen to other people’s speaking; we also speak to their listening. T___ F___ Why?
7. Discriminative listening should be avoided because discrimination against others (for instance, for their cultural differences) ought to be eliminated in a pluralistic society. T___ F___ Why?
8. Of the five major listening types, appreciative listening is least likely to be practical for interviewers. T___ F___ Why?
9. Although some people think of listening solely as a cognitive process, the concept of listening also involves behaviors that can be seen by others. T___ F___ Why?
10. Because they are collecting more experiences, most adults become better listeners as they get older. T___ F___ Why?
11. Disqualifying response
12. Surplus of seeing
13. The relationship between I-messages and you-messages
14. Self-fulfilling prophecy
15. Ad hominem fallacy
16. Write a brief description of what you’d teach if you were in charge of a one-day workshop for teachers (or managers) called “Improving Immediacy Behaviors in Interviewing.”
17. Why — and how — does listening create a “space” for dialogue? What is the nature of this space?
18. How do you know when a listener is engaged in what this chapter calls “active listening?” Define the term as you understand it, and draft a five- to 10-item checklist for observing active listening statements and behaviors that you could use to analyze a videotaped interview.

CHAPTER 4: Skillful Questioning
The nitty-gritty
With Chapters 2 and 3 setting the stage, students should be prepared to apply what they’ve learned so far to the art of questioning. Obviously, questioning is at the heart of interviewing, but the requisite, complementary skills of listening and framing should be reinforced as Chapter 4 unfolds. The mechanics of constructing and asking questions receive thorough treatment here. These are the tools of interviewing, and knowledge of their uses and usefulness is essential. The chapter, however, also covers the limits of questions; they don’t always work as anticipated. It’s important, then, to stress flexibility in the unpredictable give-and-take of questioning. Another important feature of the chapter is its discussion of the reasons people feel inclined to answer questions — and the reasons why they feel disinclined.
Suggestions for “Trying Out Your Skills” and “Making Your Decision” boxes
— The first TOYS box suggests an analysis of an interview between a reporter and a scientist. This is clearly an interview opportunity gone awry primarily because of an ill-prepared reporter, but many such interviews can be salvaged by carefully phrased and more specific questions. Which of your students has the best suggestions for rescuing both parties from this embarrassing situation? While it’s tempting to single out the hapless reporter for criticism, what could the doctor do to help sharpen the questions? Which positive directions could the interview take from this point on?
— The second TOYS box asks students to identify and analyze a published or taped interview for the types, order, and perceived effectiveness of its questions. You may want to provide the class with a handout of periodicals that often run interviews. Among popular magazines, the most famous interview feature involving celebrities is undoubtedly found in Playboy every month. A journal in communication, Text & Performance Quarterly, has published a number of remarkable interviews with storytellers and other artist/communicators. Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Parade, and Reader’s Digest publish interviews occasionally. In addition, many trade publications and newsletters such as Leadership Excellence feature interviews with successful practitioners.
— The two MYD situations involve campus-interviewing dilemmas. The first hypothetical situation asks respondents to consider what needs to be researched in order to frame a sequence of initial ticklish questions . . . which keep open both the possibility of guilt and the possibility of innocence. The second situation would be a good discussion starter for how to respond to ticklish, illegal, awkward, or unwanted questions.
Additional activities and discussion questions
It’s easier for students to glimpse the structure of questioning through analyzing a written document or transcript of an interview. Published interviews, if students understand that they have usually been edited extensively and may not closely resemble what was actually said, will suffice. In some cases, the interviewer starts with a broad-based approach illustrating a funnel sequence. Typically, probe questions are easily identified and explained, and the interviewer might shift a couple of times to readily identifiable primary questions that introduce new general topics. You should be able to find published interviews that illustrate interests you know will engage your students or that will illustrate selected concepts or skills.
Additional resources
Jones, J. H. (1997, August 25 & September 1). Dr. yes. The New Yorker, 98–113. (This article investigates the personal life and professional contributions of controversial sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. In one section [106–107] Jones discusses Kinsey’s interviewing style, which involved an extensive use of direct, common vernacular and — unusual for attitude and surveys — leading questions.)
Roter, D., & Hall, J. A. (2006). Doctors talking with patients/patients talking with doctors: Improving communication in medical visits. (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger. (See especially p. 174, “A Patient’s Guide to Asking Questions.”)
Smith, R. C., & Hoppe, R. B. (1991). The patient’s story: Integrating the patient- and physician-centered approaches to interviewing. Annals of Internal Medicine, 115, 470–477. (Smith & Hoppe are particularly interested in the effects of questions.)
Sudman, S., & Bradburn, N. M. (1983). Asking questions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Press conferences on radio or television are excellent sources for studying the wording of questions, especially how the questioner’s assumptions might lie buried in the language of a question. They are examples of broadcast interviews that do not fit the usual interview modes and protocols discussed in Chapter 12, in that they tend to be more spontaneous and contentious. The questioners often have idiosyncratic or politicized stances, and interviewees often have a public stance on an issue to explain or defend. Transcripts and video recordings of press conferences, particularly those involving officials in federal agencies and departments, can be accessed online at office government Web sites, such as (U.S. Department of State) for the daily press briefing.

Sample exam questions: multiple choice, true-false/explain, identification, essay

Multiple Choice
1. Supportive questions:

A. direct and advance an interview by bolstering, setting up, or following up primary questions (*)

B. help break the ice at the earliest stages of an interview

C. require interviewers to provide interviewees with special support in terms of explanation and background to the question asked

D. provide a “crutch” of support so interviewees will be more likely to speak openly

E. help interviewers gain the support of an interviewee before asking particularly difficult questions

2. A behaviorally based question:

A. reflects the behavior of the questioner

B. asks the respondent to describe or relate a behavior (*)

C. seeks to determine the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior

D. gauges the respondent’s emotional stability

E. both C and D

3. Which of the following is NOT an advantage of open-ended questions?

A. help reveal the importance of the question to a respondent

B. encourage someone to talk through a problem

C. allow people to determine the content and depth of answers

D. reduce the pressure of answering (*)

E. encourage a conversational flow to interviews

4. A loaded question is one that is potentially:

A. overly wordy and complicated

B. loaded with judgmental, potentially offensive language

C. accusatory in its tone and content

D. both B and C (*)

E. heavy or “loaded” because of its esoteric nature

5. Confirmative probes help an interviewer to:

A. confirm suspicions

B. determine deception in an interviewee

C. test the accuracy or completeness of information (*)

D. set a time, place, and conditions for an interview

E. confirm whether there’s been a breakdown in communication

6. Direct questions should be avoided in interviewing. T___ F___ Why?
7. It’s difficult to explore motives and attitudes with closed-ended questions. T___ F___ Why?
8. There is a difference between toughness and courage in asking questions. T___ F___ Why?
9. Ambiguous words are usually clearly apparent in communication. T___ F___ Why?
10. “Informed consent” is like a Miranda warning for interviewees. T___ F___ Why?
11. Wait time
12. Wrap-up question
13. Euphemism
14. Inflection
15. Double-barreled question
16. When might you ask a hypothetical question? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of such questions.
17. Why is empathy important in terms of asking questions?
18. What is the role of an interviewer’s communication values in the asking of questions?

CHAPTER 5: Skillful Framing
The nitty-gritty
Framing is the skill that helps people use what they learn as interviewers and interviewees. Effective listeners and speakers generate for each other a wide range of insights and information — all of which should be understood in context. The skill of framing helps provide, and illumine, this context. Many interview misunderstandings develop as a result of interviewer and interviewee bringing different frames to the interaction, and not being able to imagine alternative interpretations; indeed, they may not believe they are framing at all, but simply reacting to “reality.” Unfortunately, framing is rarely taught directly as an interview skill, although many problems of communication are attributable directly to ineffective framing.
Suggestions for “Trying Out Your Skills” and “Making Your Decision” boxes
— The first TOYS box presents an interview excerpt designed to help students analyze framing and reframing opportunities. How do counselors and clients, for example, bring different expectations to their conversations? Preview Chapter 11 for students, in which helping interviews are discussed in more depth.
— The second TOYS box asks students to record a celebrity profile interview and later practice delayed note taking. This activity will involve students’ memories, as well as their abilities to note important details in clear form. One useful variant is to ask students to do the activity in dyads, with each partner seeing the same recording, and then noting crucial details, emotional tone, follow-up topics, and quotes separately. They then can compare notes in order to learn a valuable lesson about how persons frame differently. Another variant is to play only one recording for the class and have all class members practice delayed note taking at the same time; then the class as a whole can discuss the different perceptions of what was important, or do so in breakout groups.
— The MYD box challenges students to reconsider three important issues in the chapter from the standpoint of their personal opinions: (1) At what point should someone metacommunicate in order to clarify the interaction? (2) Which recording policy is most fair for a reporter interested in getting the news for his or her readers? (Try to keep students focused on comparing these three specific newspaper policies, rather than letting them discuss ethics in general or complain about news bias or other peripheral issues.) (3) How can interviewers and interviewees become more self-aware about their tendencies toward multiculturalist language assumptions or linguistic conservatism? If you discuss this issue in class, you might want to stress that the question about interviewing in Catholic churches involves far more than attitudes about Catholicism; students should consider how much they believe they should be able to adapt to the different language assumptions of those they interview.
Additional activities and discussion questions
Show the class a video recording or provide a transcript of the famous George Bush–Dan Rather interview during the presidential campaign of 1988. In this interview broadcast on the CBS Evening News, Bush insisted on being interviewed live, so he could counter what he assumed to be Rather’s strategy of asking about Bush’s alleged role in the Iran-Contra controversy. As both men exchanged accusations, what had started ostensibly as an “interview” about the campaign turned into something else. Ask students what they believe it became, and why the communication developed as it did. Of course, part of what transpired was impression management deluxe: Bush argued that Rather never intended to interview him fairly, but instead plotted an “ambush”; in an alternative frame, Rather and CBS later asserted that Bush and his advisors plotted to use the live nature of television to pick a fight, demonstrating how Bush is really tough and combative in contrast to his supposed previous image of “wimp.” Ask students how the concept of differential framing helps us understand the interview in a helpful way . . . and whether any interview could be understood more thoroughly by adopting a framing perspective. Try to mention during this discussion that the role of the journalist, discussed in detail in Chapter 6, sometimes requires that interviews not be polite or pleasant.
Additional resources
Burgoon, J. K., Buller, D. B., Floyd, K., & Grandpre, J. (1996). Deceptive realities: Send receiver, and observer perspectives in deceptive conversations. Communication Research, 23(6), 724–748.
deShazer, S., & Lipchik, E. (1984). Frames and reframing. Family Therapy Collections, 11, 88–97.
Dougherty, T. W., Turban, D. B., & Callender, J. C. (1994). Confirming first impressions in the employment interview: A field study of interviewer behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 659–665.
Ensink, T. (2003). The frame analysis of research interviews: Social categorization and footing in interview discourse. In H. Van den Berg, M. Wetherell, & H. Houtkoop-Streenstra (Eds.), Analyzing race talk: Multidisciplinary approaches to the interview (pp. 156–177). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. New York: Harper Colophon.
Graham, E. E., Barbato, C. A., & Perse, E. M. (1993). The interpersonal communication motives model. Communication Quarterly, 41, 172–186.
Holstein, J. A., & Gubrium, J. F. (1995). The active interview. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. (See especially Chapters 3 and 4 for discussions relevant to framing.)
Few demonstrations of framing are as effective as the old Abbott and Costello comedy routine, “Who’s on First?” This conversation, which is probably among the most famous comedy bits of our century, is available on many collections of vintage radio, and there are even some versions that were filmed and are now available on video. Students track well on an audio recording excerpt of about three to five minutes.
Sample exam questions: multiple choice, true-false/explain, identification, essay
Multiple Choice
1. Framing is an important skill because:

A. communication is nonverbal and interesting

B. communication is patterned but interpretable in different ways (*)

C. communication is a rational process of inquiry

D. communication is an internal process of discerning correct meanings

E. communication can make or break a business deal

2. In an interview with a clear frame:

A. participants are confused about how to interpret things

B. participants are fully sympathetic with others’ views

C. participants have about the same definition of the situation (*)

D. participants know exactly what they want

E. participants are all concerned with impression management

3. Armin is constantly ordered around by his rude roommate, but because he values a peaceful home, he says nothing. His behavior represents:

A. a pathological condition

B. assertiveness

C. poor framing

D. appropriate framing

E. acquiescence (*)

4. The concept of acceptance-oriented language means that:

A. you choose terms with sensitivity to the framing habits of different cultural groups (*)

B. you show you like the person you interview by the language you choose

C. you try to be neutral at all times when you interview others

D. as interviewee, you try not to say anything that could be interpreted as political by others

E. you don’t have to consider multicultural issues, because all people are equal

5. In framing, an “account”:

A. is an aggressive statement from an interviewee, in response to an aggressive question

B. offers an explicit explanation of your own frame, to avoid misunderstanding (*)

C. cognitively compares the costs and benefits of the proposed answer with other possible answers

D. reframes the question

E. none of the above

6. Interview frames and picture frames have nothing in common. T___ F___ Why?
7. Breaking the frame means that you refuse to participate any more in the current communication relationship. T___ F___ Why?
8. Theorizing abstractly about framing problems while you’re engaged in an interview is usually an ineffective way to communicate. T___ F___ Why?
9. A metamessage is a message that tells listeners how to interpret other messages. T___ F___ Why?
11. Contextualizing
12. Essence quotes
13. Archiving
14. Probe notes
15. Political correctness
16. You have secured an interview with LeBron James, who has agreed to set aside an hour to talk with you. You hope to write a feature based on this interview for a regional magazine. You do your research into James’s basketball and advertising career, but as the time draws nearer, you get nervous about how you’ll take notes. Write a brief essay describing your potential choices for note taking, and why each would be appropriate or inappropriate for this situation.
17. Accurate note taking can ensure interviewers get the interviewee’s statements correctly recorded, but it can be valuable for many more reasons, too. Explain at least three additional positive or helpful results of note taking for interviewers.
18. What do you believe is the strongest argument in favor of the position this chapter terms “linguistic conservatism,” in the context of interviewing? What is the strongest argument against it? Discuss this as a framing issue, demonstrating you are aware of the range of issues in this controversy; feel free to take a position, but your answer will be evaluated by the depth of your understanding of the controversy itself, not what you think about it.
CHAPTER 6: Interviews in Journalism
The nitty-gritty
The journalistic interview stresses the ability to acquire information accurately and completely and then be able to communicate its essence to a wider audience. Journalists depend on interviews as a principal method of both defining and collecting news; the public, in turn, relies on news interviews to know what is going on and, ultimately, to decide what is worth knowing and acting upon. Different orientations influence the way journalists interview, but the stereotype is the abrasive, intrusive character often depicted in television shows and films. The chapter discusses interviewing in the special context of journalism, but the material and issues covered also apply to anyone who must engage in information gathering and dissemination as part of his or her assignments; that point should be emphasized at the beginning and end of the chapter.
Suggestions for “Trying Out Your Skills” and “Making Your Decision” boxes
— The TOYS box covers two activities. One has students critiquing stories for missing details or unanswered questions that readers would naturally need or want to know. You might want to go through this exercise yourself to help students if they have trouble finding the “readers’ questions.” The second activity is an exploration of accurate recall and note taking. One insight that can emerge from this activity (beyond its obvious skill-building contributions) is an appreciation of the complexity of the journalist’s task even among those who will not be reporters or editors.
— The MYD box — especially in its first two scenarios — opens up important areas of journalistic ethics that are subtler than some students associate with the term “ethics.” Although many assume ethical matters are limited to questions of purposeful deceit or distortion, the “Sherry Johnson” story asks students to take the role of a reporter in choosing who to interview and what to ask when emotions are high and privacy issues are involved. The “Mayor Dooley” story places in question the very definition of what a “quote” is, and how much control a powerful person should exercise over news stories affecting them. In a related question, how deferential should a reporter be when questioning a celebrity like Pete Rose? Although it’s interesting to critique someone else’s performance, this kind of question challenges students to decide what they would do differently and why.
Additional activities and discussion questions
— Go to for transcripts of the latest presidential press conference. Analyze the questions asked by reporters for such factors as conciseness, clarity, and effectiveness. If it’s a typical presidential press conference, the questions will display flaws in their wording and content. You might want to point out that press conferences usually are considered pseudo news events “managed” by the White House to shield the president from tough questioning. Nonetheless, the presidential press conference yields news and reflects the difficulties of interviewing a well-prepared world leader in a controlled communication environment.
— Have students discuss the following quotation from newspaper reporter and columnist Molly Ivins’s 1991 best-seller, Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? (New York: Random House):
Reporters tend to be people people. It helps if you’re an extrovert, but it’s not necessary. I have frequently been amazed, when taking a colleague along to a meeting of radicals or blacks, to find my colleague actually afraid of such people. I find it absurd and wrong when reporters are ill at ease with people, just plain people, who happen not to be like them. There are reporters who simply can’t deal with anyone who’s not white, college-educated, middle-class. I’m not sure whether that’s sad or funny, but I know it doesn’t make for good journalism. I don’t know how you learn to relate to people — listen to them, I suppose. Spend enough time around very different kinds of people so that they don’t strike you as odd. (p. 238)
Additional resources
Anderson, R., & Killenberg, G. M. (1997). Listening in journalism: All the news (we’ve heard about) that’s fit to print. In M. Purdy & D. Borisoff (Eds.), Listening in everyday life: A personal and professional approach (2nd ed., pp. 311–332). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Arico, S. L. (1986). Breaking the ice: An in-depth look at Oriana Fallaci’s interview techniques. Journalism Quarterly, 587–593.
Borden, S. L. (1993). Empathic listening: The interviewer’s betrayal. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 8, 219–226.
Fredin, E. S. (1984). Assessing sources: Interviewing, self-monitoring, and attribution theory. Journalism Quarterly, 61, 866–883.
McGlone, M. (2005). Quoted out of context: contextomy and its consequences. Journal of Communication, 55, 330–346.
McManus, K. (1992, November). If you absolutely, positively have to talk to real people — Here are some tips on coaxing out good “person in the street” interviews. ASNE Bulletin, 18–19.
Stark, K. (2001). What’s right/wrong with journalism ethics research? Journalism Studies, 2, 133–152.
Starobin, P. (1995, March/April). A generation of vipers: Journalists and the new cynicism. Columbia Journalism Review, 33, 25–32.
Stocking, S. H., & Gross, P. H. (1989). How do journalists think? A proposal for the study of cognitive bias in newsmaking. Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills. (A particularly interesting source that describes how journalists develop implicit cognitive “theories” — in effect, persistent frames — that they use in deciding what is newsworthy.)
Ziemann, S. L. (1998, June 19). He shows cops the media aren’t the enemy. Chicago Tribune, pp. 2–2, 2–10. (A feature article describing how a former television reporter and anchor, Rick Rosenthal, trains police officers how to answer journalists’ questions more effectively. The title suggests the theme of the workshops Rosenthal conducts.)

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