Interviewing experts in your field is one of the fastest ways to to earn credibility with potential clients while building relationships with the important influencers in your industry. But, you’ve got to be careful. The last thing you want to produce is an unhappy guest and a uninterested audience.
There are three parties that influence the outcome of an interview.
- The interviewer
- The interviewee
- The audience
For an interview to be successful, each party must feel that they got the better end of the deal.
Now, I should state that I have no particular experience or training in being an interviewer. I do, however, have extensive experience as an interviewee so I’ll offer you my thoughts on how to conduct a successful interview from that perspective.
An effective interviewer:
- Strikes a nice balance between what the audience wants to hear and what the interviewee wants to talk about. (You’d think it’s always one and the same but it’s not necessarily the case.)
- Prepares and rehearses, based on the bio given to them by the interviewee, a short introduction that highlights the key accomplishments of the interviewee. This bio is intended to ensure that the audience is impressed with the interviewee before they answer they first question. (This is not a time for ad-libbing.)
- Does their research and prepares relevant and revealing questions. They do not expect the interviewee to do this work for them (my pet pieve). However, these questions aren’t introduced in list or scripted form. Rather, they are conversational and flexible. (Note, however, that a great interviewee is able to answer almost any question you ask in a way that reveals what’s important to the interviewee. Don’t be surprised if they take you in a direction that is different than you expect.)
- Makes the administrative details organized and easy.
- Keeps the pace moving and has great timing. They can sense when the interviewee is wrapping up a point and they transition well from one topic to the next. (Whatever you do, don’t interrupt the interviewee when they’re on a roll just to get to another question on your list.)
- Plugs the book and/or the website of the interviewee. (They don’t make the interviewee do it herself.)
A great interviewer takes responsibility for every aspect of production and they do not, under any circumstances, expect the interviewee to do their work for them. Making work easy for others is a key to success no matter what kind of work is being done.
These simple secrets should produce successful interviews (shock jocks and antagonizers not withstanding). Have fun, be playful, and create value. And, don’t be intimidated. Go for it!