When you’re a freelance writer, you take any writing gigs that you can get; that includes the dreaded telephone interviews. Even if you have never done an interview before, this is something that you don’t want your editor to know – as far as they’re concerned, you’re a professional, you’re a natural, you’ve done hundreds of telephone interviews before.
Even if you are quite the professional interviewer, there are several tips that you cannot enter an interview without.
Number one: Probably the most obvious – do your research. You don’t want to make the call to your interviewee and get any information wrong, because if you get the facts wrong, you won’t get the story you want.
Number two: Don’t ask the questions that everyone else always asks; ask the questions that you and everyone else really want to know the answer to.
Number three: Do your prep, but don’t stick to your script. Sure, make some notes before you begin the call and have your questions at the ready, but if your interviewee feels comfortable and is on a roll, just go with it and let them steer the conversation, even if it isn’t necessarily going in the direction that you hoped.
Number four: Allow it to open doors; you never know what might come of the interview, what event you might get invited to and what networking opportunities that could have, so be open to everything and anything.
Number five: Don’t rely on technology. More often than not, you will be recording the interview so that you can type it up later. If you’re using a Dictaphone, make sure that you have spare batteries, and if you’re using your phone to record, do a few test runs, make sure you’re fully charged, and take some notes during the interview just in case. It pains me to admit this, but this is where shorthand (that you felt like you were being tortured with in journalism class for months and would never ever be useful) comes in handy!