what tense should I use for interviews?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

If I'm writing an interview, I prefer the present tense.

For one, it makes the interview feel current, up to date, like you're getting the freshest perspective.

If you use the past tense, the interview sounds a bit dated. Say, for example, you're interviewing a scientist and you write something like this:

Dr. Newton believed that gravity caused the crash.

The way it's written makes it read like Dr. Newton at one point believed that gravity caused the crash, but he may not believe that now.

Maybe he doesn't believe that now, but if that's the case, you should include that in your piece--and that still doesn't mean you shouldn't use the present tense.

On the other hand, if you're referring to a specific event in the past, then yeah, you should use the past tense.