Prepare for Interviews Like a Pro
Whether you’re writing an article or hosting a guest on your podcast, creating great content starts with a great interview. But nailing the interview portion isn’t as easy as showing up with a list of questions; it takes preparation and a little bit of strategic thinking. Here are my recommendations for acing your next interview.
Tell Your Interviewee What to Expect
Interviews make a lot of people nervous, particularly if it’s their first time in the hot seat. One easy way to calm those nerves is by giving people a clear idea of what to expect ahead of time. Several days prior to your interview, reach out to your subject with a thorough description of what the interview process is going to look like. Pay special attention to this step if you’re conducting your interview on Zoom or another digital platform, because that can throw people off if they’re not tech-savvy. Be sure to send all links, times, locations, and other relevant information.
Send Questions Ahead of Time
Everyone processes information differently. While some people may get by just fine glancing at their script the morning of the interview, other people need several days to look the questions over before they can form their best responses. Keeping in mind these different learning styles, it’s always best to send your questions in advance so that your interviewee has time to process them and prepare. This will ensure that you get the strongest answers possible.
…But Don’t Encourage Scripted Responses
There’s a caveat to the previous recommendation, and that is: Sending people questions ahead of time will sometimes lead them to script their answers, which isn’t what you want for an engaging and authentic interview. When you’re sending your questions in advance, make it clear that your interviewee is encouraged to prepare, but not word-for-word. Bullet points are fine, or simply making mental notes works for some people.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Off-Script
Good conversation naturally veers off-topic. In fact, if that happens during your interview, it’s a sign that you’re developing rapport and probably doing a great job! You want to hit all your questions, of course, but don’t be afraid to let the conversation take you in unexpected directions. I’ve gotten some of my best quotes while letting people go off on tangents. If you limit yourself strictly to what’s on the script, you may miss out on great insights.
Establish a Rapport
Don’t rush straight into your interview questions. Instead, get to know your interview subject on a friendly, personal level first. Ask them about their day, their career, or that cool painting hanging on their wall—anything that will encourage them to loosen up and let their guard down. Engaging in casual conversation is a subtle way of disarming your interviewee. It shows them that there’s nothing to be nervous about and helps you to create a natural rapport, which will strengthen your interview.
At Parklife, we interview people almost daily, and we’ve become experts at getting great answers and turning them into even better content. Contact us today to learn more about our marketing services.