Hello CI friends,
We had a great example of a very hostile interview played out on Canadian radio yesterday. Jian Ghomeshi, host of the CBC Radio 1 program Q, interviewed Billy Bob Thornton and his band the Boxmasters
The trouble started because Jian did not handle Billy Bob according to instructions -- and committed the cardinal sin of referencing Billy's acting career at the start of the interview.
Billy completely shut down and would not answer questions as simple as when did you form your band? Billy played dumb and gave answers like "I don't know what you mean" and "I don't know what you're talking about." He pretended that he had never met Willie Nelson, although the Boxmasters are currently on tour with Willie. He rambled incoherently with stories about building monster models as a child when asked about the source of his early interest in music. And then proceeded to insult Canadian audiences when the purpose of the interview was to promote his Canadian tour.
If you have time to listen to the audio (the speaking part of the interview is ~ 13 mins), it is really worthwhile to see how Jian handled the situation with a lot of grace. You can pick up the audio at the Q web site: http://www.cbc.ca/q/
; and/or here is the direct audio link: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/qpodcast_20090408_14110.mp3
I've posted this interview as I think we have all experienced uncomfortable interviews in our careers -- would anyone like to comment on best practices for handling difficult/hostile interviews?
I had one interview that stands out as 7 of the most uncomfortable minutes of my working life. Although thankfully it wasn't played out on live radio... I was very surprised that my interviewee was so hostile about participating in the interview -- he refused to answer any probing questions to his yes/no answers and eventually said that my questions were annoying him -- but that he continued with the full interview. And then at the conclusion of the phone call, he thanked me for calling!
So...any thoughts on how to handle challenging interviews?