Setting up and carrying out your first interview can be a nerve-wracking thing.
You don’t want to come across too nosy, but you have to get information for your press release or article!
You want to have good and specific questions, but you want the interviewee to be able to expand or give a good answer.
But, before you can even begin actually asking the person questions, you have to do some research!
After you’ve chosen the topic of your press release or article, you have to think of what you want to know about it.
Make a list of questions — literally any question you or your readers would possibly have — and then do research.
Search online, talk to some people around campus or work, read about the people you’ll be interviewing, etc.
Once you’ve answered as many of the questions as you can, narrow them down and combine some of them if needed.
Contacting and conducting your interviewee is the next step.
Typically, I send them an email explaining what I would like to interview them about and give them a list of times within that next week that I am available to see if any of those times match up with free time in their schedule.
In my experience, I usually hear back within one or two days and then the interview takes place a day or two after that.
When I arrive at an interview, I always greet them with a smile and take a few minutes to ask how their day or week is going. This usually loosens them up a little bit and makes them feel more comfortable talking.
Then, I reiterate the topic of what I am interviewing them for and just start a conversation. Telling them why you find this topic so interesting or fun will really help them engage in conversation because chances are that they are passionate about what you’re interviewing them for.
When interviewing, it’s important to keep a professional but friendly conversational tone. It’s okay to personalize the conversation and but you want to make sure not to get off topic too much. Allow room for conversational flow but also make sure you are getting the answers you need.
Conducting an interview over an email seems like the easier thing to do, but honestly it can be more difficult.
You should only email your contact three questions — more than that can be very time-consuming.
Here’s an example of what an email to an interviewee could look like (these questions are from an interview I conducted in-person for a press release):
Good afternoon, (name)!
I apologize we were not able to schedule a meeting time this week which is convenient for both of us. As promised, here are three questions for you to respond to. I recognize you have a very busy schedule, so thank you for taking the time to answer these. I look forward to hearing your feedback!
1. This is only your second year as the director of Proclamation Gospel Choir. How do you feel about all of the attention the choir has started receiving since the video went viral?
2. The vast majority of comments have been extremely positive, with many people talking about the hope and inspiration PGC has given them. Why do you think this video and this song and our choir is sparking those feelings in people across the country?
3. What are some goals you’d like to see this choir accomplish or work towards?