One of the most challenging things for any journalist is conducting a good interview. Here are some helpful tips that will help you sharpen your interviewing skills:

1. Always research your subject thoroughly before the interview. Don’t come unprepared. The more you know, the less nervous you will be!

2. Be on time! There is nothing more unprofessional than a reporter who shows up late to an interview.

3. Be polite to your subject. Be courteous. Always say please and thank you. Make and maintain eye contact throughout your interview. Greet your subject and depart with a firm handshake. A rude reporter will only elicit rude answers.

4. Never ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer. One of the most common misconceptions about interviewing is that it’s an improvisational act. You should always come to an interview with an idea of what you want your subject to say. A subject will evade questions that are not well formulated and touch upon difficult issues.

5. Always take time to clarify what you don’t understand. If your subject says something that goes way over your head, stop your subject and ask for clarification.

6. Don’t be afraid of long pauses or silences. It’s important to let your subject think before he or she speaks. Try not to interrupt the flow of thought by interjecting new questions during uncomfortable silences.

7. Compile and review your notes directly after the interview. While the details are still fresh in your mind, it’s important to write them all down, expand your notes, and follow up immediately on new leads produced by the interview.