to instantly read 150+ free stories & 250-word summaries of all our stories

Into the mic

It's best to quote Sumanth here. We think he puts it best in one of his emails this past year.

“If you have ever participated in an interview, either as an interviewer or as the person being interviewed, you can see how tough the format can be. It is nowhere as simple as asking a bunch of random questions - instead, it involves a methodical regimen that is almost forensic in nature. The best interview questions go beyond the obvious - they catalyse thoughts and responses that dig deep into the subject's mind and reveal insights and imperatives that are seldom, if ever, spoken about openly. The best interview answers are not fatuous rambles that feed egos - they go beyond marketing a "pitch" and serve as a tough and unvarnished self-examination.”

And we’re proud to say that we’ve had a series of stellar interviews this past year.

2

Now, we could do this chronologically, but that won’t help you in understanding how Seema or any of our writers employ their interview technique or their instinct to bring you the kind of work we’ve carried this year.

Rumour has it

So, here’s another one from Seema. She got a cracker of an interview with Dr Naresh Trehan of Medanta fame following rumours of his exit and a terminal illness. That’s right.

On being asked about her technique, to which she said it was rather simple. “Prepare enough to make the conversation look spontaneous; act intelligent enough to keep the interviewee on the edge and dumb enough to elicit ingenious responses.”

Trehan

From our story

“Have you been diagnosed with cancer?” 

The much-rehearsed question finally tumbled out.  As callous and rude as it sounded even to my ears, it was essential to get this out of the way. The rest of the conversation, and hence the story, would follow from it. For a few months now, the Indian healthcare industry had been buzzing with stories of Dr Naresh Trehan, the founder of Medanta. Agog to hear why and how he is exiting the business he founded, both financially and operationally. And if that is because he is suffering from “some kind of malignancy”. 

If my question was a gut punch to him, he didn’t show it. “No. Come, I’ll run a marathon with you.”

You can read the full interview here.

3

A standout two-part interview this year was Rohin’s conversation with Kabeer Biswas, founder of the “everything” app Dunzo. Over 10,000 words long, and broken into two parts, the Dunzo interview was a bit of a gamble. A gamble born out of the confidence that our readers would take the time out and engage with it anyway. And they did.

Just Dunzo It

“What made it work?” We asked Rohin.

His reply - “Knowing Kabeer well, him trusting me and us agreeing to a deep, no-holds-barred interview.”

Fun fact about Rohin and interviews - He’s gets really thrown off by an interviewee’s “Stiffness, unwillingness to answer questions I’m asking, obfuscation, glibness…”

You can read the interviews here and here.

4

Earlier this year, Patanjali, or Pat as we like to call him, got a very special interview with a man who, he says, wouldn’t talk to you.

The hidden interview

While he takes you through a long journey explaining exactly why this gentleman wouldn’t talk, it’s a clever narrative style and a rather unique interview. It reads more like a profile of a person, told through other people’s understanding of him, except… oh just read it till the end here.

Pat shared his secret to getting the man to talk. "My objective was to overshare,” he said. "That's Maron's [Marc Maron who runs the famous WTF podcast] style. He overshares and he makes the other person want to overshare because people like balance."

5

And finally, we come to the person who has had the most number of interviews published in The Ken this year—Ashish. We’ll take a closer look at two of these.

In the Venn diagram of Anand Sanwal and insight, the overlap is high

Ashish’s interview with Anand Sanwal of CB Insights delivers on the promise—it is as irreverent as the platform the man runs. But more than that, there’s a lot one learns about the art of making things accessible, having the confidence to shoot something down, and the magic of the email newsletter. It’s a fantastic read. Read here.

6

We asked Ashish about his technique. Especially the technique he employed while interviewing Jatin Singh, the weatherman. He gave us a rather confident answer.

I spend enough time pre-reporting to already know what I am writing. 90%. 10% I get challenged along the way and keep changing

Ashish K Mishra

Rohit Bhasi’s

From our story

“Fifteen years back, Jatin Singh started a company called Skymet Weather Services. With the belief that Indians need a better and more accurate understanding of the weather. Not just day-to-day, but about the monsoon—the lifeblood of the economy. Through all these years, Skymet and Singh have endured a lot. Grown. Raised money. Added people. Thought of different ways of survival. But now, the weatherman is a little pissed. He is also helplessly hopeful.”

If that got you curious, as it very well should have, head here.

Create an Account

Want to stay up-to-date on deep, insightful long interviews? Just sign-up to receive access to one free story a week, our morning emails, and access to a summary of all our paid stories.