As a blogger or a journalist, you will have to conduct interviews at some point and it’s important to be on your A game. Interviews help in getting more information about a particular topic, clarify specific points and also inform. How you will conduct a particular interview will determine whether or not you will conduct another interview. Some interviewers are so hard on their subjects such that securing another interview is next to impossible. Remember a blogger and a journalist success in measured among other things, the people you interview.
So, how do you ensure that you do not embarrass yourself to eternal damnation in the journalism and blogging world? Here’s how:
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Preparation is key
Well as they say, preparation is the key to success. Make sure you have all the logistics in place and details down to a T. Prepare the questions that you might need in the interview. The questions should be relevant to the subject that you will be discussing come the day of the interview and have a particular flow.
Before the day of the interview, call the interviewee to remind them of the appointment you had with them. Also, explain to them what is expected in the interview. For example in a television interview tell them some of the types of clothes to wear, the type of equipment to expect so that they are not overwhelmed, how to conduct themselves etc. One would ask why the interviewer should dictate the type of clothes one can wear, it is because if you are doing a studio interview and they use green screens as backgrounds, it won’t be appropriate to wear a green jacket. The subject will just disappear with the background. Also, you do not want them to wear mini-skirts on national television.
Prepare your goals ahead of time. What do you want to achieve at the end of the interview? Make sure you know what you want from that particular interview and work towards achieving it.
How do you want to convey that interview? Television interviews are harder to control the reaction of the viewers because it is audio visual. But for radio and blogs, it is easy to control audience reaction because you are writing or saying what you want them to hear. Choose a medium that will convey your message effectively. For example, if you want your message to reach many people, consider using radios because they have a wide range. If you want it to reach the youth and the working class, consider using television and blogs.
You want subject to feel comfortable enough to give you the information that you need. Ask the subject where he/she will be comfortable. If he/she is comfortable in their home, you will have to adjust your schedule to fit theirs and do it in their home.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Now that we have established what we should do before the interviewing process, it is important to prepare yourself for the actual interview. It is the hardest part because inasmuch as you want the information badly, your subject has to communicate. How do you make the interviewer give you the information that YOU WANT and not what they want?
Start the interview safe and slow like you would a conversation with a friend. Warm up your subject. Start with the normal stuff and build up towards the heavy stuff. Be friendly and listen to what he/she has to say. If they see that you are interested in their day to day activities, they will warm up to you too and tell you what you want to know.
Coax, don’t bombard
It is important to slowly build up the conversation with your subject. Seduce them into giving you the information you want. If you bombard them with question after question, they will be frustrated with you and leave the interview. It has happened to renowned journalists before. It discredits a journalist and makes it difficult to secure another interview especially if it was a prominent person. We do not want that to happen to you.
Ask open ended questions
Open ended questions are those that leave room for more clarification and explanation.
Was your day good? They will probably answer, yes or no.
How was your day? The answer would probably be: My day was great! I had a meeting that lasted longer that I would have hoped but in the end I managed to convince our new investor that the product was worth it.
From that, one can even formulate another question that was probably not in your questions list. For example,
- What product are you currently developing?
- When will it hit the market?
In short avoid questions whose answer would be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ reply.
Ask what you don’t know
This is probably where most interviewers fail. We are so excited to be interviewing a prominent personality that we forget to conduct our research. We then end up asking questions whose answer we would probably find on Google. We end up wasting our time and the subject’s time.
It is important to do research prior to the interview. Then, see the gap in knowledge and then develop your questions from there.