As a member of the content team here at theblueballroom, I conduct telephone interviews most days when producing employee magazines for clients. Getting the right information can make or break a story. Effective communication is all down to the questions asked. So here are my top tips for a good interview:

  • Research the subject area and your interviewee beforehand
  • Spend some time before the interview thinking up questions. They’ll crop up during the  interview itself but it’s always best to have some to kick off with
  • Ask questions that will answer the ‘who, what, where, when, why and how of any story
  • Ask open questions rather than ones that will get a yes/no answer. Tell me about a time when… How did you feel when…
  • Have empathy with people who find interviews difficult by offering to send them the questions in advance so they can think of their answers
  • Manage expectations. It’s important that the person you are interviewing knows how much space their story will get. You  don’t want them thinking they’ve got the centre spread if you see it more as a 50-word News in Brief!
  • End the interview by asking what one thing they would like readers to absorb from the article
  • Reassure people that they will get the chance to see and approve the article before publication
  • And finally, don't rely on a recorder alone. Always make notes in case the technology fails