Tips for an Interview That Tells a Story

For some writers, the task of interviewing a client for a story can feel daunting: “Am I asking the right questions? Am I getting valuable insight? Am I out of my element?” 

One way to move past these nerves is to think of interviews as conversations. An engaging interview goes beyond a rapid-fire Q&A session–instead, think of your interview as a conversation that brings depth and authenticity to your narrative.

At Green Closet Creative, we conduct interviews for a variety of projects such as client magazines, publications, tri-folds, and websites. Here are some tips to navigate interviews and incorporate them into your storytelling:

Pre-Interview Prep

  • Research: Learn about the person’s background, achievements, and relevant topics to ask informed questions.
  • Purpose: Determine if it’s a profile, feature story, or in-depth interview. Confirm the angle with your project manager. Identifying your purpose and audience ensures your questions are relevant to your task.  
  • Questions: Craft a variety of questions, including open-ended ones for detailed responses and yes/no ones for specific information.

During the Interview

  • Set the Tone: Convey your emotions and attitude to make the interviewee comfortable, allowing the conversation to flow naturally. Confirm any information they want off-record.
  • Listen Actively: Pay close attention to their answers, follow up on interesting points, and allow them time to finish their thoughts before responding.
  • Take Notes and Record: Use a recording device and take notes to ensure accuracy. Notes are useful for quick key points and as a backup in case of technical failure.
  • Consent: Ensure the interviewee knows how their information will be used. Always ask permission to record, as some states require consent from all parties. For sensitive information, get explicit permission.

After the Interview

  • Review Your Notes and Recording: This helps you capture any details you might have missed. Digital transcripts are very helpful for accuracy but do not capture tone, emotion, and other nuances. 
  • Identify Key Message: Look for recurring themes to structure your article, possibly as headings, callouts, or CTAs.

Incorporating the Interview into Your Piece

  • Introduce Your Subject: Provide background on the client, including relevant achievements, to give context.
  • Use Quotations Effectively: Integrate direct and indirect quotes for authenticity and to give the client a voice. Ensure accuracy and reflect their speaking style.
  • Accuracy: Verify all facts and quotations to avoid misrepresentation.
  • Proofread: Check grammar, spelling, and factual accuracy to make sure all names, dates, and details are correct. 

Above all, flexibility is key throughout the interview process. If the conversation takes an interesting turn, explore it! These conversations often lead to authentic, poignant discoveries that will inspire your marketing storytelling.

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