I have been interviewed a lot this month following the release of my new book, and the interviews have all been well conducted and fun to participate in with my wife and co-author. However, it got me thinking of the best ways to conduct such interviews with maximum effect. So today I would like to share some tips on how to interview and be interviewed more successfully. By successful, I mean memorable and interestingly enough. The advice I have will benefit you on either side of the microphone or page.
Be informed. Obviously, as an interviewer, you need to have plenty of good information on your subject already in order to ask questions that will spark a good response. But educating yourself about the person interviewing you is also a great way to understand their process and help you look better. Knowing the kinds of people they’ve interviewed in the past and the types of questions they ask will aide you tremendously.
Be creative. No one likes a dud, and thinking of questions and answers that sidestep the norm is a great way of ensuring that your interview will be entertaining as well as insightful. Of course, there are some questions that people are going to ask and be asked over and over again due to the nature of their specific talent; but if you can come up with a new approach to those “usual” questions, you will be remembered more than ever and your message will be received louder and clearer.
Be positive. This one speaks for itself, and it is good advice no matter what you are attempting in life. Lately, it seems un-cool to be happy and positive, like you’re some kind of naïve child. Well to that I say, “Leave me alone, I’m taking a nap.”
Be personal. What people want with any interview is to learn something about the person no one else has managed to glean before. Talk about your feelings and share things that showcase your true passions. It makes for a good read and helps you connect with the person you’re questioning or being questioned by.
Be flexible. The best interviews have follow up questions after an initial query is addressed. Be ready as an interviewer to respond to answers with additional probing. As an interviewee, be ready to share a little bit more and expound on something that has piqued interest.
Be specific. Make sure questions and answers are clearly stated. It’s amazing how often I read interviews and I have no idea what either of the people are talking about. Zero in on your subject matter and don’t let yourself get too sidetracked. That’s what the follow-up is for.
Be funny. Humor is the quickest way to relate to people, whether you know them well or not. It’s a great ice breaker and makes any interview seem like time well spent.
Be concise. It’s important to answer questions completely, but a long winded answer will work against you. Even worse than that is a super long question. Make sure you are communicating efficiently and everyone will come out a winner.
Thanks to all the great interviewers who have inspired me to share their techniques in this post.