Being prepared can help bolster your ability to ask relevant questions, develop ease with your subjects and coax out quotes with aplomb.
REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE INTERVIEW: When you frame your questions, focus not only on the facts, but also on the subject’s motivation and inspiration. Never presume you are taking up his/her valuable time. Positive publicity is usually welcome, so the interview is mutually beneficial.
RESEARCH YOUR SUBJECT AND USE THAT KNOWLEDGE : Refer to related newspaper & magazine articles; press kits etc. Talk to people who may know the interviewee. This helps in formulating your list of questions. Knowing something in advance can open the door to a fantastic interview. People enjoy talking about themselves, and your subject will share more if they feel you were interested enough to do advance research.
SEND A FEW QUESTIONS IN ADVANCE;; This way, the subject has the chance to consider some responses in advance and reduce any nervousness. Choose open-ended questions questions that require some thought.
KEEP YOUR READERS IN MIND: Are you writing for a women’s magazine, a science monthly, a kids’ newsletter? Vocabulary, slant and tone will differ in each case, so read past issues of the medium you intend to write for.
DEVELOP AN EASY RAPPORT: Dress comfortably and professionally, so you feel at ease. If you’re well-groomed, you’ll be taken more seriously. A warm greeting and light conversation for the first few minutes relaxes tension.
BE READY TO DEVIATE FROM YOUR PREPARED QUESTIONS: Sometimes the subject’s off-the-cuff remarks can turn out to be the highlight of your article. Don’t be afraid to wander into uncharted territory. Spontaneity is the difference between lifeless facts and information borne out of human experience.
TAPE OR TAKE NOTES? You can do both. Place your tape recorder in the open, and ask permission to use it, as it would allow you to concentrate on them more fully. Taping allows you to focus on your subject and watch their body language. Taking notes is handy for recording proper names, and asking for correct spellings etc.
ENGAGE WITH YOUR SUBJECT: Emotional connection isn’t always necessary or desirable, but sharing a personal moment can give a more rewarding interview.
FINISH ON THE RIGHT NOTE:All your questions have been answered, and the interview is winding down. A great way to end is to ask the interviewee, what they would most like readers to know about them, and to add anything not already covered. You can then ask to take photos. Thank them and offer to send a copy of the published article. Follow up with a brief thank-you note. Try to do justice to the subject – don’t exaggerate, distort of @go for the kill.@
Approach each interview professionally, with sincere curiosity, and you will find that you won’t feel panic or dread, but will find it one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing life. Happy writing!
I am always happy to hear your comments, and to help you with any writing problems. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Copies of my books are available at discount including my latest novel “Searching for Sarah.”