In this bloggy, Web-based, insta-posting age, interviewing sometimes seems to be a lost art. But if you want to move up and get better-paying writing assignments, you’ll need to conduct interviews with people. You’ll need to not just do them, but to utterly rock at interviewing.
The difference between ho-hum and great writing is often in getting wonderful quotes from sources rather than blah ones.
A lot of new writers are getting started at content sites writing quick articles that don’t require any interviews. Then suddenly, an editor or business client will call wanting to assign you a great article or project — but it requires talking to actual live humans to gather information.
Don’t let interviewing be a roadblock to growing your writing business. Here are ten tips to get you started interviewing:
1. Research your topic and your interview subject, and prepare a question list prior to your interview time.
2. Shut up. People hate silence, and if you’re quiet, they will likely say more.
3. Take copious notes, and consider bringing a digital tape recorder so you can go back over the interview.
4. Take a little time to make small talk and put the source at ease.
5. Remember your fact basics, and find out the who, what, when, where and why. Then, go beyond these to capture a few more details that bring the story to life.
6. Consider your written list only a starting point. As sources talk, what they say will bring up more questions.
7. If you have questions that may upset your subject, ask them at the end of the interview, so that you get as much info as you can before they shut you down.
8. Ask, “Who else should I talk to about this?” “Where can I learn more about this?” and/or “Who disagrees with you on this?”
9. Ask, “Is there anything else you’d like to say on this topic that I haven’t asked about?”
10. Always conclude with, “Where can I contact you later to check facts or ask followup questions?”
Photo via Flickr user tuppus