You want to spice up your blog with an interview? That’ s a brilliant idea! Interviews are always a great read – because the reader learns what the interviewee has to say in a direct quote. Take advantage of that for your blog.
An interview is a survey with the aim of finding out interesting, new and exciting things about and from the interviewee.
Types of interviews
- The factual interview explores a person’s stance on certain factual issues and adds to the message.
- The person-centered interview brings a personality or his or her character into focus.
- The survey summarizes several opinions or short statements of people on a certain topic.
If you want to reproduce interviews, two forms are suitable: the report and the verbatim interview. In the verbatim interview, the author alternates speech and counter-speech in the form of a question and answer, while in the report, the author blends quotes from the interview with further information and/or a story.
A strength of the report is the ability to include additional researched information within the text. Furthermore, the report form makes it possible to tell a story. A report is boring if its content is dry and has little substance.
A verbatim interview, on the other hand, can be exciting and revealing in the language of the interviewee. It is an excellent way to introduce people and their intentions. The verbatim interview can make thoughts transparent.
Choosing the right interview partner
Think carefully about who you ask to be interviewed. The interviewee should be a recognized expert in their field.
You’ll be doing yourself and your blog a favor in more ways than one:
- Through the question-and-answer structure of the interview, you offer the reader an interesting change.
- If you want to publish a blog post on a topic in which you are not (yet) an expert, interviews are the best way to provide your readers with valuable content.
- You offer your readers added value, which both they and Google will reward.
- You indirectly increase your own reputation.
- And – last but not least – you attract the (probably numerous) followers of the expert to your blog.
Reasons enough to think one thought more than one too few when choosing a suitable interview partner!
How do you prepare for an interview?
If you trust in your ability to conduct an interview based on your gut, you’ve already lost. The better prepared you are, the more relaxed and productive the interview will be. During your research, you should try to find out as much as possible about your interviewer, his or her expertise, and his or her opinion, depending on the subject matter. It is important to always align the interview questions with your target group. What kind of expertise do your readers have? What are they particularly interested in? When preparing an interview, it is important to think not only about your interview partner, but also about your readers. Professional interviewers also think in advance about what the answer might be. This helps to structure the interview questions logically. In addition, unusual or surprising statements can be more easily identified as such during the interview.
Research your interview partner
Allow enough time to prepare thoroughly for the interview! Research the person on the Internet. Check out his website and/or blog, as well as his social media presence. Watch videos about him or with him. And, don’t forget: Acquire a basic knowledge of his topic so you have a basis for asking smart questions.
The right questions
Do you have a set interview format with the same questions for all guests, or do you come up with new questions and ideas for each guest?
Think about your readers, listeners, viewers: What are they interested in? What questions would they ask the interview guest? Think of a thread that should run through the conversation, and time, because readers’ attention spans are short. So choose your questions wisely.
- Networking: How can you help the person achieve their goals? How can the person help you achieve your goals? Do you have a common cause, a project you want to present?
- Introduction: Take your readers by the hand and tell them why you chose this person for an interview. What do you like about this person? What do you appreciate about them?
- Your relationship: What connects you? Way of thinking, experiences etc. What separates you? How did you get to know each other? How did this interview come about?
- What did you always want to ask this person?
- Is there a question that is currently bothering you personally or in general?
- What is the one question you have been asking people for a long time?
- Does the interview guest have a motto that can be a motivation for many?
- Has she/he experienced something weird, curious, funny, unusual or unique that she/he can tell about? What extraordinary experiences has she or he had?
- What aspects of the interview guest’s biography are interesting and relevant to most of your readers, customers, listeners, viewers?
- What tips does the person have for your community?
Interviews by mail
If you look around on blogs, you will quickly notice that many bloggers conduct their interviews by mail. In principle, they send their “interviewer” a questionnaire, the latter enters the answers and then the whole thing is copied and pasted onto the blog. This is not particularly exciting for anyone involved, but it still seems to work, because even established bloggers like to use this variant.
The big advantage of these written interviews is that they are quick and require little work. In addition, one saves the search for a common appointment.
Why a written interview is not a good idea
Basically, your counterpart should have just as much interest in a good result as you do: After all, for the interviewee this is also a chance to present himself and his work. But the bigger the name, the more he might feel he’s doing you a favor. And shoo, shoo and answer superficially or not precisely enough.
Maybe you realize while reading the mail interview that you would like to follow up at one point. And that is often not possible or annoying. In addition, sometimes you only discover an interesting side aspect during the interview, which can be worth its weight in gold for your readers.
With written interviews, you run the risk that the interview partner will copy and paste the answers – keyword: double content. You want to offer your readers something unique on your blog and not simply parrot something that can already be found elsewhere. Of course, you can’t reinvent the wheel, but you should be interested in offering real insight.
So my advice is to always conduct interviews face-to-face. If a face-to-face interview is not possible, you should communicate via Skype. This has the advantage that you can at least read the other person’s body language.
Interviews via Skype
You can conduct an interview via Skype. This way you can see each other and perceive much more from the other – facial expressions, changes in voice, smiles, laughter, etc.
To take the artificiality out of the situation, you should first do a little warm-up, i.e. start with some small talk. It makes sense to record the conversation so that you are not busy taking notes the whole time. Skype itself does not support recording, but there are external applications that can help you.
An alternative to Skype is to talk on the phone and either take notes or record the conversation – it depends on how fast you can take notes and how fast the other person is talking… Experience shows that it is easier to concentrate on the conversation when a recording is running.
After the interview
Post-processing: edit your answers, sometimes you get lost and you can tighten up your statements. Avoid repetition. Brevity is the spice of life. Write an introduction that entices people to read on, listen on, watch. Organize the content, structure it – without distorting it. Concentrate on the usefulness for the reader.
You can visually highlight striking, crisp quotes and use them for Twitter and to publicize the interview.
Put background information about your interview guest at the end of the article with links to further information. Have a portrait of your guest sent to you.
Are there any reading recommendations or book tips that you can link to after the interview?
Release: If it is not exactly a journalistic interview, it is advisable to send the finished interview to your interview partner before publication. After all, you should both feel comfortable with the result! Yes, there are people who absolutely want to change or rewrite a lot, leave something out or insert something. Just see where your limits are and what changes you can go along with.
After publication: Share the interview on your platforms, tag your interviewee. Reply to comments, point out comments where she or he can contribute. If you want, you can inform your guest about the access numbers.
Thank your guest again for the time and effort!
- Prepare as well as you can: If that is not possible, then stay calm and check what can be done in the short time.
- Make sure the mood is good: Establish rapport in advance. For example, by holding a preliminary discussion about the interview. Preferably by telephone instead of by e-mail. This is more personal and may lead to further questions.
- Be structured, but flexible: Your questions form the framework of your interview. If other interesting questions arise during the interview, record them. You may be able to generate additional input that adds further value for your readers.
- Listen actively: You are probably familiar with this yourself. A quick nod or eye contact with your counterpart and you can tell if someone is listening to you. As the interviewer, it is your job to listen in order to be able to ask specific follow-up questions or clarify unclear points. It is helpful if you briefly summarize what has been said. This sharpens your attention and your interviewer knows that you were attentive.
- Just be yourself: Of course, friendliness is a matter of course, and in conflicts you should remain objective. However, if the person you are talking to behaves rudely, you may end the conversation. For me, this includes, for example, refusing to engage in a conversation and not answering reasonably. That only costs you time and nerves.