How to Ace the Individual Interview

I was informed that I had an unusual voice from an early age. I tended to whisper a lot since it was a bit too low for a girl. My large, echoic childhood home is to blame for the whispering. You had to whisper if you didn’t want mom to overhear you chatting about trivial stuff on the phone.

Before doing interviews for market research and editorial purposes, I was unaware of the value of my whisper-like speech. People found it easy to confide in me because of my calm voice, which I believe somehow inspires trust in others. I was subsequently requested to participate in further interviews, and the process was repeated until I discovered that I loved it. And with time, I improved at it.

Interviewing for content marketing purposes

I’ve learned a lot via hundreds of interviews, including how to manage conflict, maintain a lively dialogue, and craft insightful questions. And conducting interviews is a crucial skill for content marketers.

One of the uses is

Editorial – Interviews are a great way to gather unique insights for your blog, podcast, vlog, book, or other media.

Research: My favourite projects at my firm, Mantis Research, combine quantitative surveys with a few one-on-one interviews that add richness to the narrative that companies are attempting to convey.

Customers: Do you need some fresh content ideas? Customer interviews can provide fascinating material. How to achieve this is covered in a fantastic piece by Stephen Dupont in CCO magazine.

1.Align the interviewer and the subject

Similarly, if you’re doing an interview with a CEO for a survey, make sure the interviewer comes across as informed and credible. No, you won’t locate another CEO to interview the CEO, but you should pick an interviewer who is knowledgeable enough to help the CEO relax and provide thoughtful answers.

2.Be careful while selecting your recording and transcription technique.

Every interviewer dreads misplacing a tape and having to start again. I’ve only experienced that once, and fortunately I was also transcribing in real time—which, as I’ll explain later, is generally not a good idea. I normally use a different device for live interviews (and for high-value interviews, I set my iPhone app to record in parallel). I use the Voice Memos app on my iPhone for phone interviews (or via Skype, where I rely on Call Recorder, a Skype plug-in). 

3.Conduct further research.

Do your studies in advance of the interview. It’s important to research the background, field of study, publications, and accomplishments of your topic. I even search online for interview records to watch how others act. I was happy that I had listened to several of Fran Lebowitz’s prior interviews before I spoke with her a year ago. 

4.Consider your path of inquiry.

I usually prepare some questions for my interview subjects, but I try not to prepare too much. When you over prepare, you often lose focus and become oblivious to potential questions that may be asked during the interview. The majority of my questions (sometimes more) may not match my plan, but in general, I provide an overview of the topics I want to learn about as well as suggestions for ways to pick up on things that we may touch on.

5.Avoid sharing questions beforehand

If someone asks for my questions, I will just provide the bare minimum because I absolutely dislike releasing them in advance. First off, if you share questions, your interviewee can over prepare and come out as stiff in the process. Additionally, it places the locus of control in the interviewee’s hands, making it less likely for them to divulge unanticipated or private information. Finally, making your strategy public makes it more challenging to veer from it.

  The interview

1.Avoid fawning

It’s easy to fall into the “I’m such a big fan” inclination during celebrity interviews. Don’t. It’s uncomfortable to hear this all day long from famous individuals. Don’t mention anything about your celebrity infatuation until you have something important to say about them, like how a movie they made altered your life. Think of them like you would any other professional.

2.Give background

Inquire your subjects if they have any queries regarding the target audience or the intended usage of the interview. It serves as an icebreaker, and the audience’s knowledge is frequently helpful in shaping the replies.

3.Request consent before recording

Ask for permission to record the interview if you plan to do so, and be sure to make it clear that you will only be using the tape for transcription. And never give anyone else access to the transcription other than your transcriber.

4.Ask the opening query.

Your first query ought to be a bit of a softball; it should have a straightforward resolution and avoid touchy topics. Before asking the challenging questions, you should get to know the candidate, just as you wouldn’t ask a personal question on a first date.

How to begin a stride

1.Be aware of your pace

Successful interviews frequently have a pleasant pace. The art of digging deeper and gaining confidence requires practice. Building rapport and learning additional information may be achieved by structuring your inquiries in a progression from simple and informal to probing and genuine.

2.Veer off the course

Be willing to go off course throughout the interview. Likewise, go back to your initial inquiries if one detour doesn’t yield any results. Another good reason to always utilise a recording device is that you can simply make mid-interview course changes if you’re not transcribing or taking notes.

3.Take into account strange inquiries that probe

Over the years, I’ve developed a few questions that I think are both bizarre and beautiful since they are unexpected and fantastic because, occasionally, my topic exposes a lot in response.

We’ve all heard of the classic motif known as the hero’s journey, in which the protagonist sets out to track down and slay a monster. That monster can occasionally take the form of a real-world person or problem, or it can occasionally exist in a psychic or spiritual dimension. What monster do you have?

Although the query led to some difficult situations, it also elicited some really moving and intimate replies. 

4.Understand the value of silence.

The interviewer’s armoury includes the potent weapon of silence. Do not be uncomfortable with the stillness. Sit it down. Sometimes the person you’re interviewing is coming up with a response and needs some time to let it solidify. Sometimes the subject is debating whether or not to reveal the truth. The likelihood that you’ll hear something intriguing improves if you wait patiently through stillness.

5.Avoid profiting from suffering

If you foster enough warmth and camaraderie, an interviewee could occasionally divulge something really intimate and even upsetting. I never utilise information. That someone gives me, that is extremely personal without their express consent. One famous person I spoke with revealed something so intimate and moving that I wondered if he would ever want to share it. He did give us the go-ahead to print those remarks, but I wanted to make sure he was at ease. It involves treating your topic like a person.

6.Avoid bringing attention to oneself

I’ve seen conversations when the interviewer starts out by sharing his or her opinions on the subject in an attempt to establish oneself as a peer. Avoid doing this. You are allowed to introduce a thought or statement to start the conversation or guide the flow, but you must do it in a supportive capacity.

7.Describe the post-interview procedure clearly.

Finish your interview by describing the following stages in detail, including if they will evaluate the final interview and/or layout and the anticipated launch date. Prior to pressing “publish,” be sure to ping them so they may share the interview with their networks.

Learn about interviews.

If you do interviews frequently, learn the interviewing process. There is much to be learned from other fields, such as literature on public speaking, negotiating, and even mindfulness. I’d be interested in hearing about the tools that you as an interviewer find most helpful, as well as tales of your best or most disastrous interviews.