In my previous blog post, I covered 6 basic tips for giving a great interview that I’ve developed in my 2 ½ years of covering tech startups, first for Tech Cocktail and now for my own startup, UberStories.
A word of advice: Not everyone is a great interview subject – shocking, I know. They might know their stuff but have zero personality or give really short answers that require constant follow-up questions. As an interviewer, be prepared to be flexible.
So, when the tables are turned and you are the interviewer on stage at an event or over the phone for an article or blog post, here are 5 basic rules on snagging a great interview:
1. Do background research
Just like preparing for a job interview so you can answer questions intelligently, prepare for your interview by doing research on the interviewer, their accomplishments and areas of expertise, and their industry. This will allow you to ask relevant questions.
2. Tailor questions
If you are working on a series and have a list of basic questions you ask everyone, make sure you rewrite some questions so they’re tailored for each interviewee. Again, you’ll get more relevant answers and possibly snag some great quotes in the process.
Don’t be afraid to go “off-script” if your interviewee raises interesting points. Ask additional questions when they make sense and skip questions that seem redundant or out of context.
4. Redirect when necessary
If your interviewee is passionate about the subject or topic at hand, they might end up talking … a lot. Don’t be shy about cutting them off and redirecting them to keep the interview on track. If you have only allotted 30 minutes for the interview, let them know that you need to move things along.
5. Be firm
Remember that you are the interviewer and therefore in control of the conversation. Make like Mary Poppins and be firm but kind to ensure you are getting the answers and information you think are most relevant and interesting for your audience.
What are some of your favorite questions to ask when conducting an interview? I like to ask for a tidbit of information about the interviewee or their company that most people don’t know. I get some very interesting answers!
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