10 Interviewing Basics for Writers

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We all give interviews informally without even noticing. We chat with store employees over the next launches or dive into our last three months with a friend over drinks. As these come naturally and without hesitation, many might not understand the need for formal technique and preparation when conducting actual interviews. Whether talking to an organization director in person or accomplished musician over Skype the ten points below can help when faced with your subject, and the moment.

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
  2. Have a conversation.
  3. Display genuine interest for your subject.
  4. Structure the interview with a beginning, middle and end.
  5. Don’t be afraid to address the obvious, “dumb” or difficult questions.
  6. Pause between questions. People will fill the silence.
  7. One question at a time.
  8. Keep asking questions if an answer is not satisfying.
  9. For the tough questions, ask sympathetically.
  10. Use the closing question: Any points you would like to make?

Even ten is a lot to remember. Each interview I revisit these ten points and also note the specific one that needs more attention. It could be my fear to ask those tough questions or natural tendency to talk right after someone answers. Whichever one it is, that first point of preparation cannot be stressed enough. It will make learning in the moment easier to handle. A conversation might go in a completely diagonal direction or nerves can surface, but a true interviewer knows it is not the first or last time different types of discomfort will arise.

With each interview you will get better in figuring out how to deal with your subject and showcase them in the best way possible. Every writer, radio personality or tv host acquired their own techniques over the years from sage advice and personal trials. It just takes time and interview-upon-interview to do so.