25 Tips For Conducting An Interview
I have a personal goal of doing one interview per day. These interviews are done via email, Skype, telephone, live at seminars, for internet radio, and for offline media. I do these interviews because they are generally great free publicity.
Like many marketers, when asked to do an interview, I have to answer the "What's in it for me?" question. As you approach a potential interviewee, you need to make sure that your interview request answers that question.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
1) The interviewee knows if you're just trying to leverage off his/her name. You don't need to hide that fact.
2) The interviewee knows if you're just trying to leverage off his/her list. That can sometimes backfire.
3) An interview should not take too long. Acknowledge that the interviewee probably has a busy schedule and is not getting other things done while being interviewed by you. Try to keep it brief and very focused.
4) You should not make the success of your product dependent upon one interviewee. That's not fair to the interviewee, and also puts the success (or failure) of your product in someone else's hands.
5) You should not expect the interviewee to do a solo mailing promoting your interview or product. While it's nice if they do tell their audience about the interview, they often will not have the "capacity" in their promotional calendar to do extensive promotions for your interview or product.
6) You should not expect the interviewee to provide you with a testimonial. Since he/she is in the product, that testimonial has less credibility anyway... and may seem hypocritical to some interviewees or prospective customers.
7) You should not expect the interviewee to write your ad copy. Don't ask them to give you bullets to put in your sales letter!
8) You should not follow-up with the interviewee ("for clarification on points") too many times. The interviewees should not feel like it's never over because you bombard them with emails. If you do, they are at some point likely to just ask to cancel the interview.
9) You should not expect the interviewee to download some new piece of software in order to be interviewed by you. Try to use something that they are already likely to be using, such as Skype or the telephone. While it's nice to use some "new fangle" technology that hands you an MP3 and a transcript 10 seconds after you hang up, you should place the interviewee's convenience ahead of yours.
10) You should offer the interviewee a copy of the interview when practical, and when it wouldn't harm your product. Let them know how you plan on using the interview and restrictions that you place on them using the interview.
11) You should promote the interview/product heavily. That's getting back to the "What's in it for me?" If the first interview is fruitful, then an interviewee is more likely to say "YES" to future requests for interviews.
12) You should value the interviewee's time and the resulting product. If the product did not "take off," look for ways to repurpose that interview, but get the interviewee's permission first.
13) You should ask them how they prefer being interviewed. For example, some interviewees prefer email because it gives them more time to compose their responses. Other interviewees prefer a live telephone interview because it can be much quicker.
14) Generally, you should coordinate the interview questions ahead of time. The interviewee should not be surprised during a live recorded interview. Most interviewees won't have a problem with tough questions, but it is a professional courtesy to let them know to expect and prepare for those tough questions.
15) You should test out your recording equipment ahead of time. Don't make the first time that you've ever used a recording system when you have a busy interviewee on the phone.
16) You should seek questions from your subscribers/ audience ahead of time to ensure you're asking the questions that your intended audience is really interested in. Also, ask your interviewees for suggested questions since they know the subject so well. The real "pros" will have a handy question and answer sheet (Q&A) that they can send you in a matter of seconds ;-)
17) If conducting an email interview, and you haven't gotten your answers back in a few days, you should gently remind the interviewee.
18) You should conduct the interview at a time convenient to the interviewee. Consider what time zone they're in and always confirm that it's convenient for them to do the interview when you call them.
19) Many of us have large egos and if approached properly, will say yes to an interview request. That's just human nature and should give you numerous angles for landing a difficult interview.
20) Don't ask for an interview when what you're really seeking is a consulting session. If what you're really seeking is personal advice, arrange a consulting session.
21) Tell the potential interviewees who else has also agreed to be a part of the series/product. This provides social proof that they're making the right decision by agreeing to do the interview. Potential interviewees will often say "yes" to get their names associated with a project that a "bigger fish" in also a part of.
22) Share the transcript/recording of the interview with the interviewee before publishing it. This gives them an opportunity to confirm that there's nothing there that might be embarrassing, etc. Circumstance do change over time, and they might request that something be deleted after thinking about it more.
23) If it's an email interview, consider correcting spelling and grammar mistakes (with the interviewees concurrence) before publishing it.
24) If it's an audio interview, consider "cleaning it up" before publishing it. While you want an interview to sound natural, coughs, dogs barking, and "uhhs," "ummmmm's," and "you know's" add nothing to the call. They can be very annoying in a written transcript!
25) If you're doing a recorded interview, make sure that you use a quality microphone and are in a quiet environment. An interview that's difficult to understand annoys the listener and reflects poorly upon the interviewer.
Just keeping these simple tips in mind as you go about putting together, recording, and "pushing out" an interview will make you an interviewer that top personalities will really enjoy working with and helping!
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