Friday, August 7, 2009

Interview Writing 101

I'm so excited, I had to share this right away! I was interviewed by friend and author Brigitte Thompson, who recently released her book, Bookkeeping Basics For Freelance Writers. It's an honor to be interviewed by her, and you can read the complete interview here:

Speaking of interviews, they are great fun to give and write, depending on which end you're at. If you are researching a particular topic, interviews can be useful for getting the story behind the story. They can also be an excellent means of gleaning further information in a campaign or market survey, by interviewing participants and getting their point of view.

If you are conducting an interview, the following points may help you go from start to finish smoothly.

1. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. A nervous interviewer will not make for a calm and stress-free atmosphere in which the interviewee can relax. Start your preparations in advance and practice your questions in front of an audience (or even a mirror) till you get them right. Preparation will also include having a pre-interview chat with your subject to lay out how, when and where the interview will take place. If you are videotaping it, or using a recording device, let them know in advance.

2. Opt for face to face interviews where possible. Conducting an interview in person allows you to get a stronger feel for interviewee’s personality, thoughts and emotions. This is particularly important if the interview forms the center of your piece. If you are using an interview as a filler, a phone or online interview would work just as well.

3. Never skimp on research. Researching your subject and the topic in advance gives you the chance to explore both in more detail. And this definitely makes for a more captivating story. And you never know what valuable nuggets of information you may pick up along the way.

4. Phrase your questions in a non-threatening manner.
You do not want to put your subject on guard and make him defensive or nervous about answering your questions.

5. Draft out your interview questions beforehand
. And then sleep on them. You'll be surprised at the new questions that pop up overnight or the ones that seem quite banal after a good think. If possible, go through them with colleagues or friends. They may have ideas and suggestions you never thought of.

6. Use open ended questions.
These are questions that don't allow the person being interviewed to get away with a simple yes or no answer. While a good candidate will always elaborate on their answers, it's the interviewer's job to make it as easy as possible for them tell their story. Some great ways to begin a question could include, "tell me about" or "how did you feel" or "what do you think"...

7. Accessorize your interview
. Add a photo or links to make it more personal.

8. Mind your manners
. The person you’re interviewing has taking the time and trouble to speak to you. No matter the final outcome of the interview, remember always to thank them for their time.

© 2009 Usha Krishnan Sliva

Freelance writer Usha Krishnan Sliva has years of article and copywriting experience. To get more free tips and writing ideas, subscribe to her ezine-Getting It Write, today.

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