How to Conduct an Interview: Questions and Strategies

Actionable advice on how to conduct an interview with questions to make your next interview article filled with engaging content

Conducting interviews are a great way to produce content for your blog, website and publications. People love to hear from experts in their niche, and you probably need a break from coming up with great ideas every day. It’s really a win-win situation.

Your interviewee gets to share his or her expertise with your readers, and you get great content to publish. There are a few different ways to conduct an interview, and in this article I explore those ways and share some insights on how to make your next interview informative.

Written Interviews

Written interviews are the quickest and easiest way to interview someone. Here are a few reminders for your next written interview assignment.

Have your interviewee provide you with as much information as possible. Ask them the basics like:

  • What is their full name and title?
  • How long they have been with the company?
  • How long have they been practicing their craft?
  • What is the name of the company they work for?
  • What type of services or product does the company provide?

This basic information is important to have for your article, it provides you with lots of content to introduce your guest and provides necessary background information for the reader.

Beyond that, send them your more specific interview questions, and assign them a deadline at least a week before your own.

When you get your answers back, don’t simply lean back in your chair and call it a day, think of some follow up questions.

  • So I see you ______________, what made you want to get into that?
  • When you mention ________________, what did you mean?
  • Is there anything else you can tell me about ______________________?
  • How did __________ respond when you ___________________?
  • Once you accomplished ________________, how did you know you were going to ___________?

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One-on-One Interviews

Interviewing someone in person can be a little nerve-racking, for both the interviewee and you. I have a few tips on how you can make your one-on-one interview a success.

Before the interview

  • Start off your interview with some causal conversation. You want to build a comfortable rapport with the interviewee; Think “calm confidence”!
  • Remind and reassure the interviewee that you want to “showcase” them in the best possible light, and edits will be made if necessary.
  • If you have time before your interview ask your interviewee to send you the basic information via email (just send them the list of questions from above).
  • It’s very settling to a prospective interviewee that they have the option to review an article before it’s published – let them know.

Asking questions during a one-on-one interview

  • Always ask open ended questions. You never want to lead the person to answer with a yes or a no.
  • If your interviewee says something interesting, don’t be afraid to ask a follow-up question that isn’t on your list. It could lead to some really informative content.
  • Most interviewers send their questions ahead of time to the interviewee. I like keep a few questions to myself, and ask them towards the end of an interview. Your interviewee will be warmed up at this point, and will most likely have an great answer. Don’t throw them curve balls though, keep these held questions on topic.

Those are just a few ways you can make your next interview a success. Interviews will provide you with engaging content, so don’t forget to thank your interviewee when you’re done!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2011 and has been updated.

Comments
    Romil J.

    Interviewing is a complex task. An interviewer can totally end up wasting his/her time & energy if they don’t really know what they are looking for. Preparation and practice is everything!

    Reply

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