5 Tips on Interviewing People Without Blowing It

This guy is ready to interview. He's got his headset on so his hands are free to type. He's dressed up because the interviewee can see him on a Skype video chat.

Let’s say you want to interview a chef, restaurateur, farmer or author for a Question & Answer piece. Let’s say that person is famous and you don’t want to blow it.

You won’t if you follow a few rules:

1. Don’t waste the person’s time. Recently someone asked me to put aside an hour for an interview. I thought an hour was way too long, but I didn’t say anything.

I got what I deserved.

He spent the first half hour figuring out what to interview me about. I had to walk him through it, which irritated me, and that’s how we started the interview. Talk about starting on the wrong foot.

Most people who have an online presence have a website or articles written about them that you can find as easily as searching on their names. As you research, the content will lead you to write questions based on what would interest your readers most.

2. Do a ton of research. Sift through a mountain of information about the person, because that’s how you come up with the best questions. You can even review their posts on Facebook and Twitter and their bios on Linked In, if relevant.

3. Write questions that don’t lead to yes or no answers. Questions that start with “How did you feel about..” or “Tell me more about the time…” lead to great stories or quotes.

4. Set up a time to call or meet in person. State how long you’ll need and stick to it, then get ready. Yes, it’s easier to email a list of questions, but it’s not as good. People are busy and they might write one-sentence answers, or vague or uninteresting non-answers. Then you have to ask for [Read more…]