In my work as a reporter, interviews are crucial. But some of my SEO clients could benefit from reporting too. An expert’s opinion can add a little credibility to any article (and they make for nice featured snippets, too!).
Preparation is critical for any interview. If you head into a meeting completely unprepared, your source may never agree to work with you again. And you could get a reputation for poor performance, and word gets around!
Here’s what I do to prepare for an interview.
Scout Your Source
Do a quick search for your subject’s name and location. I’m typically looking for articles that the person has participated in previously. What did they talk about? What did they say? Were the quotes really long, or were they short and choppy?
At the end of a good research session, you’ll understand what the person has been asked before. And you’ll get an idea of how verbose this person might be.
Dig Into Background Data
To respect your source, you must walk into your interview fully prepared. That means you already know the who/what/where of the topic you’re about to discuss. Don’t expect your source to explain the broad strokes of a topic. Instead, ask this person to fill in the gaps you can’t fill in your research. And this person can offer a little color to a dry topic.
Never skip this step. If you don’t understand the topic forward and backward, you’re not ready to conduct the interview.
Come Up with Interview Questions
Before you reach out to your source for the very first time, pull together 5-10 questions you’d like to ask. If your source wants confirmation about your discussion topics before scheduling the interview, you’re ready.
I typically include a mix of detail-oriented and open-ended questions for my subjects. The detailed questions allow me to close gaps in my research. My open questions typically work as color within the piece.
Check Your Tech
Ensure that your phone is charged, your internet connection is strong, and your room is quiet. Respect your clients by ensuring you deliver a professional experience. And remember: Some subjects will want to do the interview seconds after you reach out to set up a conversation. You must have the tech set up immediately, so you’re ready to go.
With all of these steps complete, you’re ready to knock your interview out of the park. And watch this page, as I’m writing a few more articles in the reporting vein very soon!