Three Ways to Get More from Interviewees

In my nine years as a journalist and copywriter (I know, I know - I'm old), I've probably interviewed more people than I've had hot dinners. OK, I don't like cooking...

The point I'm trying to make, while I'm not saying I'm the best interviewer out there, is I've certainly picked up a few tips on how not to grill someone.

Recently, I wrote a guest post on the subject for a fellow copywriter's blog. I reckoned some of the 'obstacles' I've come across in order to get a scoop for a newspaper or that killer quote for a piece of copy will no doubt have been faced by others.

With that in mind, here's just three of those tips I put together. I've shortened them too, because I know you haven't got all day to sit around reading blogs. As much as I'd like you to (oh go on, bookmark my site!).

How to get more from interviewees

1. Keep Calm and Carry On

You will come across 'tricky' interviewees from time to time; they may offer one-word answers, be cocky and or/rude. Trust me, I've met them all. Persevere with the interview, if possible. Being rude to your 'subject' won't result in you grabbing that scoop, it'll probably instead result in a telling off from your editor/client and an even madder you. Grit your teeth and get on with it.

2. Stay on Topic

Resist the urge to chip in during the interview - it'll only throw your interviewee (and you!) off your stride. Listen, and stick to the topic in question. If the person you're chatting to wants to offer a little anecdote here and there, let them, but only after they've answered your key questions (i.e. the ones you went there to ask in the first instance).

3. Be Prepared

While it's true you can't often beat a good old pen and paper for jotting the odd thing down, make sure you have another means of recording the interview. Take down some key facts on paper here and there, but try to record the majority of the interview digitally - it'll make for a much more interesting chat, and will ensure the conversation flows that little bit better.

Got some tips of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments below.