In my last blog post, I went over how to BE interviewed so today we’re talking about the flip side – how to conduct an effective interview!
Interviews are an integral part of storyteller marketing. There are certain questions you can ask that will help you and the person get to the heart and soul of the true story behind an event or announcement. I’ll go over the best questions to ask, but first my advice is to…
The first thing you want to do when conducting an interview is to make sure you have an appropriate way to capture the conversation. There are multiple methods to do so from pen and paper, to computer, to audio or video recording. What you use will be somewhat circumstantial but I personally like using a computer, if it’s not too distracting. I’m better able to record their answers and I don’t have to go back and listen to the conversation over and over again. Usually trying to just hand write answers isn’t effective for me – I can’t write quickly enough by hand to get everything I need.
Make sure you meet in a quiet, calm, and intimate enough environment that both you and the person being interviewed will be open and feel comfortable.
Send the person the questions you’ll be asking in advance, if possible. Everyone likes to be prepared and this will give them time to think of more in-depth and honest answers to your questions.
Ask these questions to get to the heart of a story:
Priming questions – before you dig into the reason you’re interviewing the person (the event or announcement), ask a few personal questions and share your answers with them, too. Ask things like: “What did you do this past weekend? Do you have any pets? What are your favorite places to eat nearby?” These simple questions will build the person’s confidence, get them feeling more friendly with you, and will give you the opportunity to share with them too. Establish the feeling of mutual experience, which will build trust.
Start with why – before you ask the other “w’s” be sure to get to why the person is doing what they are doing. Stories are built around motivation. People connect with the feeling and reasons behind action, not always just the action itself.
- What’s the impact?
- What inspired you to get started?
- What will happen after or down the road? (Where is this going?)
- Who all is involved in making this happen? (Why did they decide to be involved?)
- What challenges have you faced getting here and how did you overcome them?
- What was the most exciting part of implementation/planning?
- If this project succeeds, what would that mean for our community (state, country…etc.)? This is another way to get to the impact of the event/announcement.
- How long have you been working on this?
- When? Where? – Don’t forget the basics!
- Why did you choose that time and location?
- What’s next for you? See if the person already has something else in the works that readers might be interested in.
- How can people get involved? Even if it’s just an announcement, people should have a way to learn more, get involved, or follow along on the journey.
If you ask all or most of these questions, you’ll have all the juicy details necessary for creating an engaging piece of writing that will make your audience feel like they are part of something!
Further tips for writing your piece:
- Be sure to credit appropriately.
- Send the person the piece before you publish so they have the opportunity to suggest edits. (This may not always be appropriate but if you’re able to do so, the person will be very appreciative!)
- Thank them – in person, over email, and send a thank you card that explains the importance of the piece and it’s success & impact if possible. I.E. “Thank you for letting me speak to you about X, our community of active readers have already enjoyed your article X times in the past X days and we know that they will continue to gain value and insight into this issue in the future!”
- Ask them to link to the article on your site from their webpage and social media – this will help with SEO.
Did I forget any important questions you think should be included? Let me know in the comments down below, and if you enjoyed this article, be sure to give it a like! Thank you for reading!
P.S. Thank you to Nora for the cover image of this piece. Nora is a freelance writer and blogger. You can visit her Instagram here.