Newsletter 121: Andrea Kremer Schools Me on Interviewing

Will Leitch
6 min readJul 26, 2019

I’ve decided to start putting some of the best newsletter essays here on Medium, so more people can read them. You’re still better off just subscribing. This one’s from August 2018, about how Andrea Kremer reminded me how much better of an interviewer she is than I am.

Last week, while talking to Hall of Fame NFL reporter Andrea Kremer on my show, I asked her what I thought would be a funny, self-deprecating question. Kremer is famously one of the best sports interviewers of all time, so I asked her, late in the interview:

Leitch: You are known as one of the best interviewers of all time. I am … not known as that. So can I ask you, now that we’re almost done: How am I doing?
Kremer: Honestly?
Leitch: (gulps) (tugs collar) Uh … sure?
Kremer: You’re doing fine. But you need to stop giving me options every time you ask a question. Just go ahead and ask it. I can come up with my own answer.

Anyone who has ever listened to me ask a question on the show or on a podcast surely knows that I do this. When I ask, say, this week’s guest Guy Pearce, “has it been a conscious strategy of yours to avoid big tentpole Hollywood movies?” I can’t just leave it at that. Instead, as Kremer put it, I have to give him options. Thus, before he has a chance to answer, I add, “I mean, is it a matter of being OK with being a movie star but not too big of a movie star? Nobody wants Tom Cruise’s level of fame” and then “or is it just a matter of having your own projects that you want to concentrate?” Neither of these followup questions are adding any additional information, or getting us any closer to an answer. Neither are separate questions either. They are just offshoots of my original question. They are multiple-choice options. Maybe it’s one of them. Maybe it’s the other. Maybe it’s neither. But he doesn’t need the options, because he knows the answer because it’s his goddamned life. Maybe I should just, you know, let him answer.

I had no idea that I did this. But the minute Kremer pointed it out, I realized that I do this all the time. It’s always unnerving when you’re 42 years old and you just discover an interviewing tic that a seasoned professional noticed in roughly 30 seconds.

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Will Leitch

Author of six books, including “How Lucky” and "The Time Has Come." NYMag/MLB.. Founder, Deadspin. https://williamfleitch.substack.com