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Interviews: Advice on How to Prepare, Conduct and Present

Monday 18 August 2014

8 minute read

By Sarah Burns

Interviews are conducted in various life situations, but there are good ways and bad ways of conducting, transcribing and presenting them.

Usually you don’t typically ‘interview’ someone as a journalist might, but we often need to find out facts or opinions and, subconsciously, we are ‘interviewing’ our subject for the answers we need.

Interview (noun): ‘a formal meeting in which one or more persons questions, consults or evaluates another person’ or ‘the report of such a conversation or meeting’.

Companies can use interviews to form testimonials, product reviews, articles, press releases or blog content. If you are comfortable enough to do it yourself, then it instantly blocks out the middle man (PR or media organisations), so you can reduce costs and remain in control.

This blog from Thrive aims to give you the gift of Thriveability when it comes to being a trainee journalist, if you like, as well as help with content creation, find the right clients and create a consistency of message in your marketing messages.

Types of interview

Typically speaking there are two largely recognised ways of presenting such interviews:

  • News story: A lengthier, more pulled together compilation of the main facts of an interview – seen in newspapers, quotes are often just snippets of an interview:
When the company needed help with branding, they issued a desperate plea for help.
Tommy Nixon, founder of Nixons Knows Best, said: “We have never had any kind of web presence and in 2013 it’s vital we try and become recognisable in this key area – our audience is here!”
Good for most offline content which requires quotes rather than a predominant amount of information.
  • Q & A: the simplest way of presenting your findings to your audience is literally writing the questions and answers, for example:
Interviewer: How would you describe Inbound Marketing?
Respondent: It is a great way of conducting advertising and marketing in a customer-focused way, often through online methods.

Ideal for guest bloggers, blogs featuring others, maybe promotional material if the voices are authoritative enough’.

3 tips for interviewers

If you aren’t trained, or used to, conducting interviews, it is pretty daunting, but the good thing about them is they aren’t just off the cuff; lengthy preparation can go into them:

  • Background research: If you know who you’re going to interview it’s a good idea to take time to research what they do, who they are and find any interesting things you could ask to lighten up the interview. Often starting with a funny fact you’ve found can lighten the subject’s mood and relax them.
  • Structured questioning: Don’t just leave it to chance, but plan what you want to ask – this is where the background research comes in – so you are a calmer interviewer, which will relax your interviewee. A good thing to plan is the chronological order of your questioning, starting with the early questions, ‘How did you get into your industry?’, then get into the more important stuff. A good tip is to just ask a silly question at the start, i.e. ‘What did you have for breakfast?’ just to get them into the right frame of mind. Never be so rooted into your pre-rehearsed questions that you miss something good, if they reveal something intriguing then follow it up, just don’t go completely off track if it isn’t relevant.
  • Editing/Legal issues: As with any form of journalism and publishing you should be aware of accuracy and laws surrounding libel issues. Whenever someone gives you a name or place ensure you have the correct spelling – are they Ashley, Ashleigh or Ashlee? Never twist somebody’s words to make it more interesting, you must always keep the meaning and context of what they are saying. If the tense or words themselves need changing around to sound more grammatically correct in the way you are presenting that’s fine, just don’t change what they are saying – this is libel.

Thoughts from Thrive

Remember that interviewing can form a lot of material which can be banked or published immediately onto blogs, social media, websites or even turned into press releases and/or ready-written articles.

Take advantage of anybody on your team who has a knack, or passion, for writing, as a collection of content which has already been done will work wonders when you really need promotion. Interns and work experience placements, with a background in writing, can also be set to work on this, with bylines (getting their name published as an author) as a reward; they will be keen to do it!

If you're looking to embark on a website build project, whether it's completely from scratch or a site refresh, our ebook will give you the knowledge to make your project as stress-free as possible.

The Website Design Handbook for Businesses

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