Plan Questions

Prepare a few key questions in advance. This doesn't mean you should interview from a study sheet, although some people do. Writing out the questions helps you both find and remember them. Think about the nature and sequence of questions you ask. One approach is to start with a general question: "How did you get involved with the problem of homeless people in the first place?" Then ask a narrowing question: "What services do you currently provide for the homeless?" And follow up with questions as the occasion provides: "How long have you been doing that?" Sometimes a provocative leading question will provide interesting information: "According to the Mayor, your homeless shelter is not providing the services promised." And sometimes an imaginative approach will help: "If you were the Mayor, what's the first thing you'd do to deal with the problem of the homeless?" In other words, I try to rehearse in my head what will happen if I lead with one question rather than another, try to predict what I'll get for an answer, and then see if that's the direction I want to go. I do all of this on paper, to myself, imagining, before I go into the actual interview.

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