Expert Interviews 6: Getting more information

This lesson will show you how to dig deeply into one point.


You may have to deal with tough interviews, both in terms of unusual topics and certain types of experts.

Warm Up: 

When dealing with completely new topics, you may want to press experts to give you ballpark figures, ranges or estimates.

Let's talk about the value of social media user data.

Your teacher has a lot of general information on this. Try pressing them for a quantifiable answer. 


A. Pressing for detail

You may need to press the expert to give you as much detail as possible. 

1. You can try to get quantifiable information by asking about the numbers in general.

  • Can you give me a ballpark number?
  • I'm not looking for hard numbers, just in the general area. 
  • If you had to say a percentage, what might you say? 

2. If the expert is reluctant to share the specific information, you can ask for comparisons using closed questions. When dealing with a reluctant expert, you can ask quickly so they don't think much about whether or not to answer.

  • More than 10%?
  • Closer to 2% or 20%?
  • It's got to be more than 10%, right?

3. If necessary, you can get the rationale or context for that number.

  • How did you arrive at that ballpark number?
  • How does that compare to
    • 5 years ago?
    • the industry average?
    • the competition? 

Practice: Ask your teacher about staffing numbers at The English Farm.

Your teacher may not know the exact answer, but try to get as specific as you can. The goal is to press as much as possible without seeming rude.

Topic: Staffing at The English Farm

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Professional background (business background or teaching?)
  • Location (Asia? North/South America? Europe?)
  • Future hiring 
    • This year
    • Next year
    • In 3 years

B. Getting further detail

You can ask for more detail, based on your level of understanding. 

  • I basically get it, but could you explain that a little?
  • Actually, can you take me through that again?

  • Sorry, I don’t (quite) follow. 
  • Wait, you've lost me. 

Practice: Ask your teacher the following questions and get an explanation for each one before moving on. 

  • What's the population of New Zealand?
    • The trend? Why?
    • The forecast? Why?

    C. Dealing with thick accents, bad connections, and jargon

    You may come across people you simply can’t understand. Remember that the responsibility is on the interviewee to speak clearly and be understood. You can direct your interviewee as such. 

    • Can I get you to say that again?
    • I’m sorry, could I get you to speak a little slower? 
    • It’s a bit hard for me to follow. Can you help me out by speaking a bit more clearly? 
    • Sorry, I’m no expert in this. Can you rephrase what you just said? 

    Practice: Your teacher will give you information about tourism in New Zealand, but the connection will be unstable. Try to get all the information as quickly as possible. You may need to take notes.


    Methane emissions 

    Your teacher has a lot of data about global methane emissions. Below is the information that you need to get from them. You can take a minute to discuss the topic in general and formulate questions before moving on. Don't forget to introduce each topic smoothly.

    1. Methane vs. other greenhouse gases
      • Short and long term effects
    2. Sources of methane emissions 
      • Human-made vs. natural sources
    3. Emissions vs. absorption 
      • Solutions