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Success Strategy of a Presidential Interviewer

INTERVIEW EDGE • JAN 1993

Larry King made a mark on the world of politics when he interviewed all three major presidential candidates. What made his interviewing style so successful and so unique?

The key to King's success was his ability to gain the trust of the candidate. In a recent interview with New York magazine, King capsulized his success:

"I know I get good information, and the reason I do is because these people trust me. They know I'm not there to embarrass them. I'm sincere, I listen to their answers, and I let them finish."

Some of the "good information" King extrapolated included a first time admission from George Bush that Saddam Hussein illegally diverted materials that "would have helped them build a nuclear capability." Other information included admissions from Dan Quayle and Pat Robertson that they would support their daughters if they chose to have abortions.

Interviewers can learn a good lesson from King's experience. Building a positive rapport with a candidate early on will lead to a more candid interaction when the tough questions are asked.