Knowing how to interview someone is one of the best skills you can develop. Whether you are trying to understand your client’s behaviours, making new friends or business associates, or engaging with someone that could be a potential mentor. Over the last five years, I have spent a lot of time preparing people for interviews for jobs, conducting interviews for news articles, training people to run interviews, and been an industry source for countless interviews. Over this time, I have cemented a formula with a few key elements for the perfect interview to get the information needed to make sure I can get the information needed for the job I need to get completed.
Knowing Your Subject
Preparing for your interviews is the solid foundation that holds up your interview. It might sound like a no-brainer that you should arrive prepared for an interview; however, in the years that I have spent being interviewed, it always astounds me when someone arrives clearly unprepared. You need to spend time researching your interview subject to ensure that you know enough about them. This could be simple things like knowing that they’re married and have children, all the way to knowing the school they attended and their work history. There is no excuse in this day and age, with so much information available to you online, to not find out a bit about who you are interviewing.
Have Questions to Ask
Arriving to the interview with a list of questions to ask your subject is a fundamental item you are going to need for the interview. The types of questions you are going to ask will be specific to the outcome of your interview; however, try and ask a few general questions before jumping right into the core detail you need from your subject. Unless you are interviewing a major celebrity, most people are not used to being asked questions. Having some general questions allow your subject, and you, to warm up to each other, and you can gauge if your subject answers questions succinctly or talks for quite some time. Looking out for these types of patterns can assist in driving the subject of your interview for more detail or to encourage them to keep their answers short.
Keep an Ear Out and Go Off the Cuff
An interview is different from a conversation. In a formal interview, you are looking out for words and phrases that allow you to dig deeper on items to get behind the way someone thinks and feels about what they are talking about. Having questions to ask is important, but they should only form the basis of your interview. Going off script and asking follow up questions that aren’t on your prepared list can help you to uncover amazing insight into areas you hadn’t thought of. But the key is listening to your subject and not just waiting for them to finish speaking.
Interviews are a great way to get into the mind of someone and allow them to provide insight into their industry and their expertise. Utilising the above items can ensure you have a successful interview and get the outcome you need.
Author: Shannon Morrison
Writer of words and protector of content, Shannon strives to deliver witty, informative and uncomplicated sentences. Lover of coffee, sarcasm, books and Star Wars. Moonlights as a Professional Beagle Butler and unicorn wrangler.