Interviewing people for a story you are working on can be quite an intimidating experience. It is, however, something that should be done to make the story more real and credible. A good writer makes an interview subject come alive with words – the subject’s words.
An interview is a portrait. Quotes are good but what really adds color to interviews are the tone of voice, body language, eye movement, pauses in replying, and other little details that the interviewee “says” when he/she does things. Observe the subject before, during, and after the interview.
Ask the right questions that make the subject come alive. There are “hot button” questions for this. For men, these are usually achievements and hobbies. For women, the usual questions that are important are abut family and children.
These “hot buttons” just get the ball rolling so to speak. The best interview is still when the interviewer shows genuine interest in the interviewee. Questions should be arranged in a natural conversation flow. The right questions are unusual, thought-provoking, revealing, and able to incite emotions and opinion.
Interview subjects smell fear so be brave and confident. Begin with the end in mind and don’t waste your time and your interviewee’s.
Practice the Vegas rule: off the record means OFF THE RECORD.
After the interview, write a thank you note to the subject. Let the interviewee know when the article has been published.
(Learned from Writer’s Block Philippines. For workshop schedules and other useful resources for writers, please visit WBP’s website.)