What do you do if your client wants a bio, to revise their bio, or wants an article written on their latest product or service? The solution is to interview them. You can do this over the phone, face-to-face, or through email — whatever the client prefers. Your client can use the interview to post on their website and you have a guideline for writing a stellar bio or article.
Interviewing doesn’t have to be scary — it can be a lot of fun. Freelance writers who want to exercise their inner journalist will enjoy interviewing. It’s a nice break from writing and you may discover a hidden talent. Once you develop your interviewing skills, you could add this to your freelance services.
Knowing the client will help you with the interview. Look at their website, social media sites, and read any material they’ve written. Pulling information from these marketing materials will help you create interviewing questions.
Listening and understanding your client are the keys to getting a profound interview. Forget about interrupting your client when they’re speaking. Wait for pauses then interject and ask questions. The interview will flow better if you do this.
Tips and tricks to interviewing
1. Be natural when you interview someone. Think of it as having a conversation with a friend and you won’t get nervous or make the client nervous.
2. Ask journalistic questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how and prepare questions ahead of time. However, if you allow the interview to unfold, you’ll intuitively know what questions to ask.
3. Be professional. If a phone interview is scheduled for 2 pm EST and you live in another state, make sure you’re familiar with time zones. Its embarrassing to have a client call and ask you if you forgot about the interview.
4. Expect the unexpected. If the interview gets off course, gently guide the client back to the interview.
5. Phone interviews. Your client may prefer a phone interview because they’ll be relaxed and in their own environment. You may want to use a program called Audacity which is a FREE audio editor and recorder. It works great for phone interviews.
6. Email interviews. If your client prefers email, make sure you know what program your client prefers, i.e., Notepad, the new or old version of Word, or some other program.
7. Face-to-face interviews. This provides you the opportunity to see your client and their facial expressions. Bring a recorder, notebook, and pen. You may want to bring an extra recorder and batteries to ensure the interview is recorded — sometimes technology malfunctions. Make notes as you conduct the interview because they could prompt you to ask additional questions and write down key points.
8. Listen. Know when to interject with questions by listening to definitive pauses.
9. Forget about a set time limit. Avoid using a time limit unless your client is under time constraints. Plan for an hour but if the interview is flowing ask your client if you they’d like to keep going.
10. Transcripts. Some clients will ask for a transcript of the interview. You can either transcribe it yourself, use a transcription service, or hire a local transcriber.
Remember the interview may be posted on your client’s website so ask interesting questions that will engage your client and readers. Boring questions are the fastest way to dash your hopes of a poignant interview. Ask open-ended questions that you can build upon if necessary. Stay away from questions that require a “yes or no” response because they don’t add anything to an interview.
Freelance writers have fun with an interview. Make sure your client is relaxed because it will make the interviewing process easier. Be prepared with you questions, but don’t be afraid to ask questions that you think of as the interview progresses. Good luck!
What was your favorite interview? Share your experience.