Great interviewing means feeling the subtext
I was inspired when I came across this bit from John le Carré’s “A Most Wanted Man”
And again Bachmann let the observation pass. A halfway-decent interrogator, he liked to preach…doesn’t smash the front door down. He rings the front doorbell, then goes in at the back entrance. But this was not the reason he held off, as he later confessed to Erna Frey. It was the other music that he was hearing: the feeling that, while she was telling him one story, he was listening to a different one, and so was she.
A number of great interview principles here (can you think of any others?)
- Ease your way along
- Pay attention to your feelings about what information is lurking ahead
- Don’t force subtext to become text
This is not a process of ask-question-collect-answer-repeat. It’s filled with wonderful subtleties and nuances. Bachmann, le Carré’s interrogator, has a good handle on them as they apply to his context.