Our external advisory board, this year consisting of 24 experts from 20 leading global research organizations.

1st February 2019

‘That’s a good question…’ Interviewing for content writing

The best response an interviewer can get?

‘That’s a good question…’

Creating content often means interviewing people with a story to tell. Could be an artist, a celebrity or the guy covered in tattoos. To get the best answers out of your very short window of opportunity means knowing the ground rules. Interviewing is a lot harder that it appears on TV. It requires preparation and a few smart techniques to get your subject to open up.

Here, we’ve put together some of the tricks we use when we’re interviewing fora research piece or authority paper. Also take a look at our interview with Sir Robin Knox Johnston for what can happen…

11 Quick tips to get the best from your interview:

  1. Be interested but passive: This is not an interrogation – and you’re not trying to nail a slippery politician. Remember how Michael Parkinson used to do it.
  2. Don’t be word perfect: This is about getting the best response you can from someone you don’t know. You don’t have to be polished, just yourself and that builds trust.
  3. Be Respectful: A little deference will go a long way.
  4. Get Prepped: Research and write down your questions in advance but use them as a guide – not a script.
  5. Listen: Repetition is annoying. Listening carefully means you won’t ask a question that takes people back over the same ground they’ve just been.
  6. Be flexible: Allow your interviewee to expand and even drift off point. Just prompt them a little.
  7. Let time slip: Allow a specific time period for your interview and let them know what it is. But allow a window for it to drift over.
  8. Do your pre-reading: Have at least a little knowledge about your subject and the areas you want to discuss.
  9. Be wrong on purpose: Some of the best answers come from suggesting information you’ve researched and allowing the interviewee to correct you.
  10. Use body language (even on the phone): Mirror the movements of your subject where appropriate. If it’s a phone interview – imagine how they’re sitting and respond accordingly.
  11. Record it: You might be lightening at shorthand but nothing beats eye-contact and chemistry. You can’t get that if your head’s in your notepad.





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