ZAK: I love a good question. When I listen to interviews or watch them or read them for that matter, I'm often more impressed with a move the interviewer makes than with the answer given in response. One of my favorite interviewers is Aaron Lammer. He co-hosts a podcast called Longform where he interviews writers. His questions often surprise me and therefore his interviews go in places I'm never expecting.
AARON: My advice about interviewing...I heard an interview I think on Marc Maron with Seth Rogan and he was talking about how they would prepare for the Ali G show. He was a writer on the Ali G show and he was like, we don't know what's gonna happen in one of these but there's only so many possible ways these can go and I'm just gonna play out a bunch of scenarios and we're gonna write jokes where if it goes this way...we're gonna write hundreds of jokes. They're not all gonna happen but he's gonna be armed with a bunch of these sort of forking path, choose your own adventure style
AARON: So my advice about interviewing is to kind of pre-visualize a conversation that way. Less like a list of questions and more like a forking tree of possibilities and themes. That kind of gives you the power to, like, steer the conversation but not steer the conversation too much. You're giving yourself enough forks that it can go a variety of ways and you can still have some degree of, like, preparation. And people actually...there aren't that many possibilities, even to a wide-open scenario, short of just walking in and being like, hey, what do you want to do talk about, you kind of know some places a conversation can go and I found that much more helpful than having way too many questions which is what I did as an interviewer when I was starting...was like, I'll just prepare by having hundreds and hundreds of questions and then, of course, it doesn't land on those questions or you can't side-track your brain quickly enough to pick up on them. The thing I like about the forking tree is that you don't have to refer back. You're always moving forward. If you pass a point, if you pass a question, well of course that was gonna happen, you couldn't possibly take all the forks of the tree.
ZAK: Thank you for listening to my interview with an interviewer about interviewing. Aaron Lammer is co-host of the Longform podcast. If you have some advice for me, I always want to hear it. Call me on the hotline at 844-935-BEST and as always, if you're enjoying this show, please leave a rating or review wherever you listen to podcasts.