The Art of Interviewing

An article by our Assistant Producer, Will Walters

A rigid definition of interviewing would be simply one person asking questions and another person answering them.

I tend to think it goes a little deeper than that. When sitting down face to face with an interviewee, I already know the kind of responses I need, yet it’s the unexpected answers that I find the most rewarding. Embarking on that voyage of discovery into the mind of the person you’re facing is no easy feat. Especially when they have absolutely no idea who you are!

Through my role as Assistant Producer at TMG, I have had the privilege of interviewing a vast array of people. From politicians and athletes to teenagers that are about to leave school and embark on arguably one of the most daunting steps in their lives.

Perhaps unexpectedly, I have found the latter group by far the most inspiring. Meeting them, chatting with them and having them speak with such openness, clarity and intuition about the world that surrounds them has been an education for me personally. This particular world they are soon to begin navigating as young adults has seemingly never looked so uncertain and alien to any time gone by previously (Brexit, terrorism, homelessness, house prices, student debt, salary expectations, climate change – to name but a few).

Partner this uncertainty and anxiety from their surroundings combined with the inevitable heavy-usage of social media and you have a poisonous mix of ingredients that has the mental health of those exposed as a target. Body image (comparing selves to models), false representations of lifestyle (comparing your life to how others portray theirs), trolling (hateful or offensive behaviour online with total disregard for the feelings of others, usually with the sole intention of provoking a reaction) – each of these are just a small sample of the darker traits of social media that can be so threatening to the welfare of users.

I interviewed two 15 year old boys recently who both openly talked about their own struggles with depression throughout school. The matter-of-fact ways they explained the catalyst for it, how they handled it and why they want to raise awareness for it genuinely had me dumbfounded. Without needing any real prompting, they divulged this information first to me and a camera then to a room full of total strangers. For the amount of flack this generation receives online – especially the exhaustingly unnecessary ‘snowflake’ labels – I have seen and heard with my own eyes and ears the intelligence, bravery and intuition that exists within it.

Older generations who are perhaps still a lot more reserved may never show this type of openness about their feelings and this isn’t necessarily their fault. A time of stiff upper lips and being told to “man up” has seemingly done more harm than good. This is why the courage and transparency demonstrated by these teens was so refreshing.

It’s only too easy to tar a group of people with the same brush when we see something we don’t agree with. By doing so, however, we are selling ourselves short. Instead of alternate generations looking at each other in disdain, they should be looking to learn from one another. Whether it’s looking up from your phone to chat to the person next to you on the bus, getting in touch with your relatives or taking time out of your day to catch up with an old friend – every conversation is an opportunity to learn.

I am thankful for the opportunities I have to engage with people from an array of backgrounds on a human level through my work and I can’t help feeling if we all made a habit of this in our daily lives, there would be a lot less ignorance in this world.

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