Several world-renowned reporters and journalists discovered a lifelong-love for communications and professional journalism upon joining their high school yearbook club. It’s no wonder why yearbook classes offer a unique insight into almost every aspect of the news industry.
A crucial journalism skill yearbook staff can develop as part of their yearbook experience is the art of conducting interviews.
Interviewing a teacher, student, or school counsellor for useful information a yearbook needs should be about more than just asking questions and documenting responses. It’s a skill that takes planning, preparation, and practice. In this article, we will share tips that any yearbook team member can use to make yearbook content shine!
Yearbook Journalism Interview Tip #1: Focus on Who and Why?
When determining which people to interview as sources of relevant yearbook content, explore who you’d like to interview and why their words may matter. Consider interviewing people who can represent different aspects of the student body.
Who to Interview?
For example, how a math teacher views the current school year and their students will likely differ from that of the school’s principal or support staff. And, a student’s perspective will look vastly different from school staff members! Be sure to include people from all school areas to represent the school’s community accurately.
Some example of potential interview candidates may include:
- School principal and vice principal
- Student council members
- Members of various school clubs
- Sports team members
- Support Staff
- Bus Driver
- School Nurse
Determining why you’d like to interview someone for yearbook quotes, spotlight stories, or anecdotal content is just as important as who you’re interviewing. When deciding who you’d like to interview, determine why their words could be a good fit for the yearbook. Determine what you want to learn about that person and consider if that information will be relevant to your project.
Some questions to help determine why an interviewee candidate should be considered can be:
What role does the interviewee represent in your school?
Are they a well-loved teacher students want to know more about? Are they the captain of the football team during a victory year?
Can an interview with this person address an untapped perspective in the content?
If gathered yearbook content appears to be heavily influenced by a small proportion of the school’s population, interviewing someone outside that circle can add much-needed diversity.
Yearbook Journalism Interview Tip #2: Arrange the Interview
After selecting who you’d like to interview, it’s time to determine if that person is available and willing to be interviewed for the school yearbook. Aim to approach the potential candidates in-person. However, if that’s not possible, it’s best to contact them with a phone call. Avoid asking them by email or text.
Be sure to reach out to them in a way that will encourage them to participate. Before reaching out, write down the reasons why you’d like to interview them. And, be sure to share that information with them. Explain why their input will add value to the yearbook. Also, do your best to accommodate their scheduling needs.
Be prepared to accept “no” for an answer. However, when asked with plenty of time in advance, most people will consent to be interviewed.
Yearbook Journalism Interview Tip #3: Be Prepared
Prepare for your interview well in advance of your scheduled meeting. Have a list of questions you’d like to ask written down; don’t rely on memory alone for keeping the Q and A session organized. Gather all the tools you’ll need access to in the interview. Be sure to have the following information and items ready:
Recording tools are necessary to document/record the interview. A simple pen and paper are adequate to record the interview. However, if access to electronic devices such as a voice recorder is available, be sure to use one, as long as your interviewee agrees. Your smartphone will do the job.
List of Questions
Arrive at the interview with a list of questions already prepared. Try to avoid simple ones that will prompt one-word answers. Enlist questions that will encourage conversation between you and the interviewee. Be prepared to ask follow-up questions if they say something interesting or unexpected. Sometimes the best interviews don’t follow the scripted questions.
Yearbook Journalism Interview Tip #4: Act Professional
Behaving professionally for each interview you conduct is essential. Not only will it enable you to get the outcome you want from the meeting, but it will also show respect for the person you’re interviewing. A few key ways to act professionally are:
- Be on time.
- Thank the person you are meeting.
- Be considerate of their time.
- Be polite.
- Ask if you can contact them for follow up questions.
- Take notes.
- Send a thank you note, even if it’s a quick email.
Yearbook Journalism Interview Tip #5: Promptly Summarize
After you’ve finished interviewing someone for your yearbook, promptly review and summarize the meeting. Look at the notes and comments you jotted down and go over all the answers provided. Make a note of words that will be incredibly valuable, and consider how to use that information in the yearbook. Prepare a detailed summary of the interview to share with other yearbook staff.
Tell Your School’s Story with FutureBook Yearbooks
Capturing classmates and school community members’ stories and viewpoints to be shared in a yearbook is a notable task. And, the skills gained with conducting professional interviews will be useful for years to come. For more information and resources on how to tell your school’s story, visit the FutureBook Yearbook ideas and inspiration page.