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The art of the interview

Published on Tuesday, 6th February 2018, contributed by Stratton Craig

The art of the interview – 7 hints and hacks for getting to the nub of it

Interviews can strike dread in the hearts of people, whether you’re an interviewer trying to glean some interesting titbits or an interviewee with a compelling story to tell. But they needn’t be something to fear.

Humans are naturally inquisitive creatures and while you’re no doubt there to tease information out of your subject, no one likes the idea of being interrogated. So, rule number one: if you’re conducting an interview, treat it like you would a normal conversation.

Over the last 7 years as a freelance film and music journalist, I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) how to get the most out of an interviewee. If you’re putting someone in the hot seat, these tips will help to make the interview more useful, informative and even enjoyable (no, really!).

Do your research

This may seem blindingly obvious, but it’s a big one. If you’re interviewing someone, be sure to read up on who they are and what their experience is – especially if they’re someone with a public profile. What do you know about them already that you could potentially use to tease out some soundbytes? Have they worked with someone else of note? Do they have an exciting project in the pipeline? All of these approaches can lead to some interesting avenues of conversation.

Small talk can go a long way

Show a bit of empathy and don’t be afraid to talk to your interviewee casually before launching in to your questions. The thing to remember is that, regardless of someone’s profile, whether they’re a CEO, an artist or a musician, they are ultimately a professional just like you. Once you’ve got past any notions of awe, it’s much easier to talk to them on a personal level.

Think outside the box

Chances are that if you’re speaking to someone in the public eye, be it a politician or a musician, they’ve probably been asked the dull stuff countless times before. And it’s probably been reported in interviews countless times over. If there’s something notable happening in their industry or sector, ask them for their take on the issue.

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