Business, Industry, The Journey

Inside an Interview: Five Tips for Success (58.06%)

At the end of yesterday’s post, I promised to share some “insider intel” on how to deliver a seamless interview from start to finish…

…because you never know when you might find yourself on the other end of the mic.

I’ll be honest: interviewing isn’t easy.

Sure, some interviews will fill you with warm fuzzies and you’ll emerge with a new friend in tow, but the ugly truth is that there will also be interviews where your subject is unmotivated, disengaged, skeptical, nervous, hesitant, or a bit of Columns A through E. These tips are designed to help you make the most of the interview experience and deliver a crisp and engaging piece of writing (or audio or video) with as little headache and heartache as possible.

In the interest of brevity, I’ve distilled this list down to five simple tips:

1. Establish trust.

You know how they say Content is King? Well, when it comes to interviews, Rapport Rules. Interviews are won and lost by the ability to establish positive rapport with interviewees. Think about it: would you share with someone you didn’t trust?

Keep a mindful eye on body language, smile, and don’t be afraid to sprinkle in an ice breaker or two (unless, of course, you are tragically unfunny).

2. Be prepared.

In a perfect world, every interview would go on as though it were an effortless conversation between friends. However, most conversations aren’t recorded and one of the parties generally isn’t scribbling notes for the duration, so to help promote a sense of ease, do your research and show up ready to talk shop.

3. Ask open-ended questions.

An open-ended question is one that cannot be answered by a simple “Yes” or “No.” The difference between “Did you like living on a farm?” and “How would you describe your experience living on a farm?” is the difference between a dead-end and a good soundbite. Reserve close-ended questions for facts and other direct information.

4. Embrace silence.

Most of us consider silence deadly, but it’s important to send that preconception packing when you’re in an interview. Remember: people respond to questions at their own pace; by filling silence with needless noise, you risk losing an otherwise thoughtful, thought-filled tidbit.

Silence: awkward, then awesome.

5. Play it back.

Want to improve your interviewing skills? Unfortunately, it’s “pain for gain” on this one. Even though most people hate the sound of their own voice, when transcribing your interview recording, keep an ear out for how you’re doing as the interviewer. Do you rely on fillers like “um” and “uh”? Are you a chronic interrupter? Or worse: are you tragically unfunny (see #1)?

This list is by no means exhaustive, so chime in and let me know what you’d add.


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