Image by smiling_da_vinci via Flickr
Freelance writers, how many times have your clients asked you to interview sources for articles, blog posts, or books? By the way, you can find ‘sources’ at HARO or Reporter Connection. Anyway … Interviews can be conducted via phone, SKYPE, face-to-face, or through email. Remember, it’s important to research the background of whomever you’re interviewing in order to create a list of questions that are provocative, yet informative. Review websites, social media sites, and read any material written by your interviewee. Gathering information from these resources will help you create your list of questions.
Freelance Writers Learn to Interview like Diane and Katie in 10 Easy Steps
1. Be natural when you interview someone. If you think of an interview as having a conversation with a friend, you won’t get nervous or make the interviewee nervous.
2. Ask journalistic questions: Freelance writers, you know what questions I’m talking about: Who, what, when, where, why, and how. Prepare questions ahead of time; however, if you allow the interview to unfold, you’ll intuitively know what questions to ask.
3. Be professional. If a phone interview is scheduled for 2 pm EST and you live in another state or country, make sure you’re familiar with time zones. It’s embarrassing to have an interviewee call and ask you if you forgot about the interview.
4. Expect the unexpected. Freelance writers, if the interview gets off course, gently guide the interviewee back to the interview.
5. Phone interviews. Freelance writers, some interviewees prefer phone interviews. You may want to use a program called Audacity which is a FREE audio editor and recorder. It works great for phone interviews.
Tip: Avoid interrupting the interviewee when they’re speaking. Wait for pauses and then interject and ask questions. The interview will flow better if you do this.
6. Email interviews. Some interviewees prefer email interviews and want the questions sent within the email. Others require freelance writers to submit questions in either Notepad, Word (.docx, .doc, .rtf), or some other program. Always ask.
7. Face-to-face interviews. This provides you the opportunity to see your client and their facial expressions. Bring a recorder, notebook, and pen. You may want to bring an extra recorder and batteries to ensure the interview is recorded — sometimes technology malfunctions. Make notes as you conduct the interview because they could prompt you to ask additional questions and write down key points.
8. Listen. Learn when to interject with questions by listening to definitive pauses.
9. Forget about a set time limit. Avoid using a time limit unless your interviewee is under a time constraint. Interviews are anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour. But if the interview is flowing ask the interviewee if they’d like to keep going.
10. Transcripts. Freelance writers, how fast do you type? Some interviewees will ask for a transcript of the interview. You can transcribe the interview yourself, use a transcription service, or hire a local transcriber. It’s up to you.
Tip: Freelance writers, remember that an interview may be posted on the interviewee’s website. Ask interesting questions that will engage the interviewee and readers. Boring questions are the fastest way to dash your hopes of a poignant interview. Ask open-ended questions that you can build upon if necessary. Stay away from questions that require a “yes or no” response because they don’t add anything to an interview.
Freelance writers have fun with interviews. Make sure an interviewee is relaxed because it will make the interviewing process easier. Be prepared for the interview with a list of questions, but don’t be afraid to ask questions that you think of as the interview progresses. This will show that you’re paying attention to what your interviewee is saying and guarantee you another interview. Good luck!