Conducting interviews is an art that requires a lot of social skills, empathy, effort and practice. Asking great questions isn’t always as easy as it seems. There are many aspects to take into consideration when preparing for an interview. The following tips can help you spark your inner journalist and conduct interviews like a pro.
Choose an adequate location
For starters, choosing the right place to conduct your interview is very important. Meet where your interviewee is comfortable as they will be more likely to open up and collaborate with you. Ask your guest if they have a favorite place in mind and meet there. You want to avoid noisy places, unless the location is relevant to the story. If you are profiling a chef for example, you need to meet him in his environment (i.e noisy kitchen) and not in his living room, as it will add an interesting dimension to the story.
Preparation is key in any interview; it shows seriousness and respect for your interviewee. The best way to prepare is to research and write the questions accordingly. Make sure your questions have a logical order and a sense of continuity. Researching will also allow you to collect background information you could easily collect from other sources. This way, when you meet your interviewee, you can focus on collecting additional information that can help you craft your story. Preparing is important, but don't forget to leave room for discovery and spontaneity.
When you meet your interviewee, tell them what the purpose of the interview is and how much time you’ll need. During the interview, make your guest comfortable by being welcoming, humble and approachable. Be persistant, but never pushy.
Listen and be curious
During the interview, listen carefully and pay attention to your guest’s body language and mimic it. You can mix between different interviewing styles: conversational and formal style. Keep the conversation flowing with natural transitions from one question to the next. Nod and maintain a good eye contact in the process , which will encourage your guest to elaborate. Always remain objective and professional. It’s important to be sensitive to opinions and not let yours overshadow your interviewee’s point of view.
Open ended questions
During the interview, remember to keep the questions open ended to avoid getting one word answers. This will allow the conversation to go places you would have never imagined. Ask about feelings and emotions and don’t be afraid to ask challenging or difficult questions; as it often leads to interesting answers. At the end of the interview, always ask your interviewee if they have anything else to add which will give them the opportunity to discuss anything on their mind that they never had a chance to bring up during the interview. the story can take many surprising twists and turns.
Silence is gold
There will be moments of silence during the interview, don’t try to fill the void. Instead, honour those moments because they can give your interviewee some space to think and breathe, which will lead to some great emotions and reactions.
Following up is very important as it shows respect and professionalism. If you mentioned you would send them the piece at a certain date, make sure you do so. This will add to your reliability skills and will leave you with a great impression.