Interviews have the potential to be so much more than just another element to add to your blog. When conducted correctly, an interview can produce a post that is truly one-of-a-kind and unique within your niche. Crafting quality interviews require care, consideration and these 5 essentials.
Research to Save Your Life
Do you want your interviewee to clam-up on you? Then by all means, ask the same old interview questions they’ve heard a thousand times, or better yet, prove your lack of knowledge by requiring clarity on the most basic aspects of their history.
The most important aspect of an interview takes place long before you ever say “hello” – it’s the research. Your goal as an interviewer is to ask a question they’ve yet to be asked, or better yet, get them to contemplate something in a way they’ve never thought of before.
When crafting your questions, keep your audience and theme in mind and never position yourself for a yes/no response. For example asking, “Are you able to comprehend the magnitude of your viral following?” won’t be as insightful as, “What have been your feelings about the massive size of your audience?”
Have a Conversation
You should strive to make the process as personal as possible whether you are in-person, emailing, phone interviewing or using Skype. Ease interviewees by encouraging them to think of the experience as a typical, back-and-forth conversation; the direct quotes can be detailed later. Setting this type of mood can get people to open up; they will be able to focus more on the discussion, and less on crafting perfect, quotable sentences.
Just let the conversation flow and strive to grasp the feelings and meanings behind his/her statements. When quote-worthy comments come about, repeat the quote for clarity and get confirmation from your interviewee; “So what you’re saying is…”
Leave the Map at Home
While your research fully prepares you with a comprehensive lists of questions, allow (in fact, encourage) discussion to navigate off of your mapped path. Some of the most interesting tidbits can be discovered while going off on exploratory tangents. In the end, you’ll always come back to the script, but don’t rush the process of the scenic route.
Other important things to note: after preparing your questions, edit the order so that the interview naturally builds on itself. Whenever possible, provide yourself with smooth transitions from question to question to keep things flowing mid-interview. Also, even if they are related, remember to never ask more than one question at a time (i.e. “How have you been handling this busy schedule? Aren’t you exhausted?”). Most likely in the process of answering, one of the two will get skimmed over.
Marketing Still Matters
As organic as the interview process is, it also hosts plenty of corners for classic marketing.
Gain some hype with teasers leading up to the release of the interview, and get your following involved by allowing them to submit questions for you to ask on their behalf. When looking for guests to interview, seek out someone that you can provide with a win-win (i.e. do they have a new book or latest project that needs publicity?); cross promote wherever possible.
Most interviews fall flat because they live up to be just that, interviews. For a post like this to be successful, it stills needs to retain the quality of any other post, the only difference being your info is coming from this unique and specified source. Try branding the interview around a specific theme and in preparation, create a vignette of talking points to surround your branded topic.
Go Ahead, Go Off the Record
Don’t be afraid to ask off-the-record questions at the end of your interview. It goes without saying that they should be crafted with respect and your common sense. Remember that all recording devices need to be turned off; pens should be put down with your hands preferably visible (both psychological and situational, this move encourages trust).
Asking an off-the-record question should always be in an effort to satisfy the piece, not your curiosity. For example, you might seek clarity on personal feelings toward a past situation, just to aid you in setting the tone of the article. Be sure not to ask any of these types of questions without first confirming that you do, in fact, have their permission to ask them an off-the-record question. In short: forge ahead, but tread politely.
Regardless of the medium in which the interview was preformed, there has yet to be a better way to say thank you than the handwritten note. While permitting your interviewee to review your draft before it is published is enthusiastically not recommend, be sure to reach out once the interview goes live with an update and one final thank you.
What have been your experiences conducting interviews? Share your stories below.
About the Author
Kelly Gregorio writes about marketing trends and blogging tips while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a provider of merchant advances. You can read her daily business blog here http://www.advantagecapitalfunds.com.
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