If you want to conduct a successful expert interview, you need to know how to communicate well with your subject. These interview tips will help you get the most out of your efforts. If you’ve taken the time to build a relationship with your subject already, this will make communication easier. Here are a few communication tips specifically for conducting interviews.
Easy Questions and Small Talk First
It’s good to open an interview with an introduction and a few basic, easy questions to start with. These should be questions the interviewee is comfortable with and maybe has a prepared answer for already. You’ll get more into the complicated stuff through the course of the interview, but at first, start with simple topics.
Erase the Ums and Uhs
If you’re recording the interview and publishing it in audio or video form, you’ll need to watch out for the “ums” and “uhs.” A free tool to edit your audio is Audacity. These filler words and sounds are used in everyday conversation but in a recorded interview they can become terribly annoying. If you haven’t recorded yourself speaking much, do a trial run and listen to your speech mannerisms. Practice your questions until they disappear.
Good Body Language
Use body language that shows that you’re confident and comfortable. If you’re not confident and comfortable, use this body language anyway. Sit straight in your chair and don’t slump. Maintain steady eye contact with your communication subject. Sit with an open rather than a closed posture. If your interview is over a webcam, A trick I have used to help me focus on the camera and not my screen is to put a simple face over my webcam with a hole cut out for the lens to shoot through. It looks corny, but has helped me significantly.
Match Body Language
A good communication skill in any situation is to match body language. If your interview subject crosses their legs, cross your legs as well. Mirroring body language is something many people do naturally already. When you mirror body language, it shows that you’re paying attention to the speaker and establishes good communication.
This one is very important -listen actively to what the subject is saying and ignore distractions. Don’t think about what you’re going to say next. After the interviewer is done speaking, repeat back to them a summary of your understanding of what they’ve said. This is a great tool for communication because it clarifies that you understood the meaning and also restates the main point for your listeners. You run the risk of missing a prime opportunity to follow-up their comments with a question that can provide deeper insights into your guests thinking.
Ask for Clarification, Details and Examples
You’ll create a list of questions for your interview, but you should also ask follow-up questions to their answers that clarify, ask for further details or ask for examples. This shows that you’re listening but also allows you to get more deeply into specific topics that you think your audience would be interested in.
See It as a Conversation
Your interview shouldn’t be an interrogation. Rather, it should be a conversation. Relax and be natural. You don’t have to just ask questions and listen to the interviewee’s answers. Keep it relaxed and conversational, and guide the conversation through your questions. Each interviewee will have a different personality, and those can vary dramatically based on how their day and schedule has been going. Listen to and watch for audio and visual clues as to their mindset and work with the reality of your timing.
By using these interview tips and the information provided in the previous 4 posts in this series you will be equipped to handle your interviews with style and enjoy terrific results.
Here are the previous 4 posts in the Interviewing Influencers Series: