The Art of the Interview

Posted on April 27, 2013 by Lizz S

A Quote-Spraying FountainJust as with newspaper and magazine articles, sometimes the best way to get vital information when writing content for websites is to interview someone. Getting great quotes from a source will spice up your content and make your work memorable. Here are a few ways to get your source to spray you with great quotes like a quote-spraying fountain.

Don’t Give Them the Option to Be Boring

No matter who you’re interviewing, go into the interview with a list of questions already chosen. When you’re writing content for websites, the interview may be a list of questions that you email to the source. But, you might also decide to conduct the interview over the phone, through messaging or even in person. In all of these scenarios, you can have a list of questions ready that won’t let the interviewee answer with just a “yup.” Put a lot of thought into your questions and you’ll get far better quotes for your piece.

Get a Little Personal

When I was a reporter, I noticed that the more businesslike an interview was, the more businesslike and stale the quotes often were. By taking a minute or two to reach out to the source on a personal level, the source will often let his or her guard down a little. Find something sincere to use to connect with and you’ll see a quick difference in the tone of the interview. Find something to compliment her on besides that hideous skirt, or tell him that you admire the midlife crisis car he came in. Let slip something about your kids/home/favorite zombie movie and you’ll probably see a bit more of a personal connection that will allow for more colorful quotes. You may even get more information than the source would have revealed without being loosened up first.

Do Your Homework

If you’re conducting an interview, you aren’t looking for the kind of generic information that you can find online. Even if you don’t know a lot about the subject you’re interviewing about, your questions need to go deeper than surface information to create the kind of content that will make an impact. The more you understand about the topic, the better your crafted questions will be.

Let the Source Talk

It’s tempting to get into an interview and begin having a conversation about the topic. However, an interview isn’t an ongoing conversation. Once you’ve established a bit of a personal connection, your part in the proceedings is limited to asking questions. Avoid the temptation to interrupt or offer up your own experiences like it’s dinner party chat. You’re there to pull the information out of the source like strings of handkerchiefs from a clown’s mouth, and the easiest way to make that happen is to keep the source talking.

Lizz S is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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