Do your research
When it comes to interviewing someone it’s so important to know a bit about them before you start the interview. This can be as simple as looking at the internet and seeing what they have already put out for people to see. you can use it to help guide your questions and make them unique for the individual or company you are interviewing, and you will gain a range of answers which will help you stand out from the crowd.
Have more questions than you need
It’s vital to have spare questions that you can ask if the interviewee is not giving a lot of information over. Use open ended questions like ‘how do you...’ or ‘what’s your…?’ as this encourages the interviewee to give more detailed answers, and the variety ensures that the quality of the questions don’t suffer.
Be confident and approachable
When interviewing you need to be approachable and confident, so you really need to the subject that you are asking about (see #1) and know the questions you are going to ask. Your notes should serve as a prompt, not a script. You need to have eye contact and smile with the interviewee as a way of reassuring them. The more relaxed your tone is, the more comfortable they will feel, and the conversation will be better for it.
Have more than one way to take notes
One of the biggest errors I have made when interviewing has been that I have relied on just one means of documenting answers. I’ve taken written notes, then on review not understood my own notes fully, or relied on an audio recording but had not been aware that it had stopped recording halfway through. If you intend to write answers out, you might want to consider recording it as a backup - although you will need to ask the interviewee if they are happy for you to either film or record via audio the interview. If they are happy to go ahead, then you can record this way as well as a backup.
There are always times when things stop working or you rush your writing so reading back can be hard. Having a variety of recording methods is important so that you have more than one way to document the interview, and that there is always a backup to refer to.
So these are my top tips for conducting an interview and making sure it goes smoothly.
Do you have any others? Let me know in the comments.