Asking questions isn’t easy, but it’s very important. Regardless of the type of interview, the value of the answers will always depend on the strength of the questions asked. In media, the right question can lead to a breaking news story or a strong quote that will help frame your entire story. The wrong question could stop the interview cold in its tracks, offend the interviewee, or cause them to lose interest.
When I was asked to join Under30CEO as Interview Editor, I didn’t think twice about interviews being a different challenge than writing an article about someone or a company. I had been writing for six years and thought that I was more than capable. Not only was I tasked with interviewing top young entrepreneurs to write articles highlighting them and the interview, each interview is published as a raw audiopodcast on iTunes. I can’t hide behind bad questions because audio proof is available for the world to hear. After my first interview went live, I nearly lost the job. Thankfully, they gave me a second chance and we’ve been going strong for nearly two years.
To help you conduct your first media interview, or just to give insight on how I go about asking great questions, here are my tips followed by sample questions.
Tips for asking the right questions
- DO YOUR RESEARCH!
- Unfluff it
Additional tip: If questions that lead to a yes or no have to be a part of the interview, try to back-load the interview with them. You want to start with questions that will help them get comfortable and give in-depth answers. If you start an interview with a couple quick questions, the interviewee will tend to get in that habit and continue to give short answers for the rest of your conversation.
- Don’t answer the question for them
- Leave room for a follow-up
- Keep it simple
For an example subject, I’ll ask questions as if I were a reader of this article and wanted to learn how to ask the best possible questions during an interview.
- What are the best few ways to help an interviewee open up during an interview?
- (follow-up) Why does this work, and how can anyone apply this technique to their interviews?
- How can you turn around an interview if it starts to go up in flames?
- How do you deal with an interviewee that clearly doesn’t want to be a part of the interview?
- What’s the best way to contact you for more information?
Thanks for asking! Want to keep this conversation going? Email me at Michael@TrepRep.com
Interested in Why I’m Publishing 365 Times in 2015? Read the first post of 2015 here!Want to be a part of my series? Share topic ideas or volunteer for an interview in the comments below.
Michael Luchies is the Founder of TrepRep, Director of Content Programming forPursuit, Interview Editor for Under30CEO, Entrepreneurship Lecturer at Illinois State University, TEW 2 contributor, and writer of all things entrepreneurship. Connect with Michael on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.