If you're responsible for your company's marketing strategy, then carrying out interviews with industry experts is a great way to provide your audience with useful and informative content. The interview can be used to create an article that you can publish on your website and share on your social media channels for your audience to enjoy.
But where to begin? The thought of interviewing can be intimidating, but with the right preparation it will feel much less scary. You never know, you might even enjoy it!
With that in mind, we've compiled a list of seven top tips to help you prepare for an interview and get the most out of your time with your interviewee.
Looking to conduct an interview for academic or research purposes? We've got a separate guide to help you prepare.
Before any interview, doing your research is essential. Ideally you'd research the topic before securing a specific interviewee, as this will help to ensure that you find someone who's the right fit for the subject matter.
You don't need to become an expert on the topic, but you want to go into the interview knowing enough to be able to ask good questions (more on this in point 3).
In the time leading up to the interview, it's a good idea to check your interviewee's social media. Not only will this give you something to break the ice, it'll also ensure that you're up to date with what's going on with them and can ask the most relevant, up-to-date questions.
In-person interviews are often the best for building rapport during the interview, but if that isn't possible logistically, then you could conduct the interview on the phone or via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Once you've agreed the format with your interviewee, send them a calendar invite and any other relevant information, such as your address and phone number or a Zoom or Teams link.
This is probably the most important part of preparing for the interview. Going into it with a strong idea of what you and your audience want to know is essential, and having several key questions ready to ask will help to structure the interview.
That said, you don't want to reel off a list of set questions - a good interview functions more like a conversation, so you should be prepared for the discussion to veer off course, and you can gently bring it back on track when necessary.
When it comes to the types of questions you should ask, open-ended questions are far better than closed-ended ones. Closed-ended questions elicit a simple yes or no answer, whereas open-ended questions encourage a longer and more detailed response.
Here's an example of a closed-ended question...
"Did you feel excited about the launch of your new podcast?"
Versus an example of an open-ended question...
"How did you feel about the launch of your new podcast?"
Always end an interview by asking if there's anything important that you haven't covered. This will give your interviewee the chance to share any additional information that you might have missed.
It's also a good idea to ask your subject how they'd prefer you to follow up. You might have extra questions you want to ask post-interview, or you might want to double check a certain point, so it's good to know the best way to get in touch if you need to.
We just mentioned that a good interview functions more like a conversation, and as such, it's important to actively listen to your subject's responses and to be prepared to react with additional questions.
You can't predict the course an interview might take and the new topics that might arise, and by paying attention and asking relevant, unplanned follow-up questions, you might just hit a gold mine.
If you're trying to write down every word that's spoken, it can be hard to actively listen, as you'll be distracted by trying to keep up with your note-taking. For this reason, it's important to...
Holding a conversation, asking all the right questions and building rapport takes focus, which is why recording your interviews is so handy.
By recording your interviews - using your phone or a dictaphone for in-person interviews or built-in recording tools on Zoom or Teams - you can take the stress out of note-taking and focus fully on the interview. Please note that it's common courtesy to ask your subject's permission before you start recording - they're bound to say yes but it's the polite thing to do.
After the interview, transcribe the recording to get a written version of the entire exchange. You could transcribe the recording yourself, but that would be a very time-consuming process, especially if the interview went on for a while.
Instead, make the most of transcription services like Transcribe to get detailed notes from the interview in a matter of minutes. Once you've received the transcription, you can search for key topics and quotes and edit the transcription to cut irrelevant information.
After your interview is done and dusted, it's time to write it up! You might want to format the article as a Q&A, or you might prefer to take what's been said and turn it into more of a structured story, pulling out key quotes to include throughout the narrative.
Chances are there will be a fair amount of content that isn't relevant to the article, so don't be afraid to cut out certain parts so that what's left is all fully relevant to the article and your audience.
If you realise there are some information gaps, now's the time to get back in touch with your interviewee with some follow-up questions - you could even schedule a short follow-up interview to cover anything extra.
And there you have it - seven useful tips to help you interview someone for an article! With a good amount of preparation and the right tools, you'll soon become a confident and proficient interviewer.
Check out our guide on how to transcribe an interview to help you get your article written up and live on your website for your audience to enjoy.
Written By Katie Garrett
Learn how to prepare for a recorded interview, how to transcribe an interview and how to edit your interview transcription with the help of our useful guide.
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