15: Blakeslee/Fleischer Prompts, Ch. 5

Prompt 1 (Blakeslee p. 136): Analyzing a document

I am comparing the interview styles of Chelsea Handler, an official at Augustana College who interview me for admission, and a reporter friend of mine who I’ll call Jake. I have purposely selected wildly different contexts and interview that have very different purposes so that this comparison may show more significant differences.

CH asks questions that she already knows the answers to; they are for the benefit of her audience. The AC official asked questions whose answers didn’t matter; his purpose was to determine intelligence and articulateness. Jake asks questions based on the content he needs from a source. These people also prepare differently for interview. CH no doubt talks to the interviewee beforehand off camera, and probably has staffers who provide her with information. The AC official reads application materials to learn context. Jake does extensive research before an interview, including online searches and interviewing other people as well as discussing potential interview questions with his editor.

These three have very different personas. CH’s is sharp and witty, for entertainment purposes. Her ethos is one of a talk-show host; viewers know she is carefully constructing an identity. The AC official is scholarly and impressive, channeling the prestigious ethos of the college. Jake often takes on an almost subservient role in order to get better answers; although he is almost always smarter and better informed than his interviewees, he lets them take charge and do most of the talking in order to get good quotes and establish a good relationship for the future. The three interact differently with interviewees, although they are all invested in drawing out the interview for at least some length of time. CH sometimes cuts interviews short because of time limitations, but the AC official and Jake draw out interviews for as long as possible; they only benefit from getting more information.

The qualities that strike me most are those about how the interview constructs him- or herself in relation to the interview. Jake’s approach strikes me as most caring and ethical; it is unsurprising that I like him and his style best.

Prompt 2 (Blakeslee p. 138): Analyzing a document

The differences in preparation by interviewers were most profound between the AC official and Jake. The AC official had limited means for research, while Jake researched everything he could find. This made for more natural, productive interviews. Jake was also, simply put, a better conversationalist. This is a skill he has polished for years, and that sort of long-term preparation makes a major difference.

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