Post by BlogPaws CEO, Yvonne DiVita
Interviews are a popular way to share content, engage readers with another viewpoint, and have a chance to work with a popular blogger or expert you admire.
Most people are flattered when someone makes a request to interview them. The invitation asserts their expertise and shows that they are making a difference. No matter how popular or how “big” they are, the fact that another blogger is asking for their advice, in an interview, makes them smile. This is true 99% of the time. The other 1% aren’t worth worrying about so I won’t even discuss them!
A key point to remember when deciding to create interviews is to make the result compelling.
What does that mean? It doesn’t mean ask the same old, tired questions everyone else asks. Yes, you do want a history of the expert, and you want your readers to feel the power behind the expert’s words. That’s a given. But, you can take care of the expert history in one or two sentences. It’s not necessary to drone on and on about how important they are!
When it’s time to get to the meat of the interview, you want to be creative and interesting. Ask questions that are open-ended but easy to answer. Give the expert time to respond, if you’re doing video, and give them guidance on how long to compose an answer if you are doing the interview via email.
Here are 10 questions interviewers should ask…but don’t!
- If you were a color, what color would you be? Why?
- What was the best idea you’ve had, but never acted upon?
- Do you have a mentor? What one thing has your mentor taught you that influences everything you do?
- Have you ever fired a client? Why? What did it teach you?
- When you retire, what do you want to be remembered for?
- If you could be part of a new order, in a new world, on a planet far, far away, what would your purpose be?
- Beyond the success you’ve had in your business, what gets you out of bed every morning?
- We all say that family comes first, but if you were brokering a big deal with a big client, and it interfered with your child’s birthday, what would you do?
- Who is the most important person in your field of work, other than you? If this person invited you to lunch and told you to bring a friend, who would you bring?
- You’re a leader in your field. As a leader, do you think women and men can ever compete on a level playing field or will gender always complicate how things get done?
These are just a few questions I thought up off the top of my head. I’d love to have people ask me some of these questions. Notice that they require some thought on the part of the interviewee. You can’t just say yes or no to these questions. Nor can you offer a one word answer. (Know this: The one word answer is deadly to an interview!)
I’ve conducted interviews that went badly, one word to each question, or one sentence, delivered with a deadpan expression. These were video interviews. I struggled with how to use them. The content was appropriate, but there were few if any teaching moments. In the end, I added them to my blog post with a good bit of extra content from me!
Over time, I realized that the success of my interview was on my shoulders. Do not expect your expert to carry the interview and make you look good. You are the one on the spot for this. If you’ve chosen someone who doesn’t interview well, you need to provide the excitement that is lacking. If you have an interviewee who is over the top, you need to reel them back in and keep them on track. A successful interview starts with the person asking the questions.
To conduct a compelling interview, follow these six steps for video:
- Choose your subject wisely. Is he or she well-spoken?
- Do your homework. Know enough of the expert’s background to fill in the blanks, if you need to.
- Choose a place that is quiet and either showcases your brand, or has little wall art for distraction.
- Give your interviewee direction well ahead of time. Your interviewee needs to know how long the interview is and what the purpose (subject) is.
- Ask the interviewee to provide his contact information and share it at the end of the interview.
- Ask compelling questions. Be provocative. But, be polite – unless you’re aiming to be Jerry Springer.
When doing an email interview, follow these five steps:
- Do your homework. You will be writing the interviewee’s introduction. Allow the interviewee to participate in that, but you should choose the most compelling content to share.
- Keep the introduction to three sentences or less. Less is more in this case.
- Ask the right questions. Don’t go on forever – five questions is good. 10 is a lot, but some folks will be happy to answer 10 – more than 10 is a chore.
- Include mentions of the interviewees online properties or writings; make sure you show images of books, especially a new publication.
- Make your content relevant to your readers, not to you.
- Put the interview together with the proper bullet points, images, and conclusion. Why did you do it? Why did the interviewee consent to it? Why should your readers care?
Once your interviews are ready, share and share and share, and make sure your subject shares on all his social channels also!
When it comes to great content on the web, the blog interview, if it’s compelling, is among the most trafficked. And, could lead to YOU being interviewed as the next expert in your field.