“The important thing is not to stop questioning”Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein knew a thing or two about asking questions. Mostly, he knew that without them he wouldn’t discover anything new.
The same applies to being a writer, which is why mastering the art of the interview is an essential skill for anyone that makes a living with words.
Writers, particularly copywriters, need to be able to write about a topic persuasively. But for that there has to be a certain level of understanding. And one of the best ways to understand something is to ask questions.
Even better if it means asking a real life person and not just Google.
Here’s an example.
An eCommerce client wants a series of blog articles. To understand more about the business and to add a human interest angle to the articles, an effective approach is to interview the stockists.
Why? Because the people behind a brand often have inspiring stories to tell. And this is more likely to resonate with consumers than simply writing about the products they sell.
Another example is speaking to an industry expert to validate claims in a B2B sales brochure. Or using quotes from happy customers.
Whatever the reason, it will involve asking questions. Plus, if you do it the right way, it can add a deeper layer of context to your writing.
Here’s how to master the art of the interview.
Always do your research
Who is the person? What do they do? What have they said in the past? This is the first step towards understanding the person and the topic.
Prepare questions in advance
If the interview is taking place by email then this is a no-brainer. If it’s by phone, or in person, then have a series of questions ready to ask. But be prepared for more questions to come up during the conversation, and don’t be afraid to ask them.
Use open-ended questions
These are questions that can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If you feel there could be more to add, ask ‘what happened next?’
Although this mostly applies to phone or in person interviews, it’s so important. The interview is about the other person, so make sure you really listen to what they have to say. Listening will also give you some clues to the bigger story and will likely prompt more questions.
Finally, interviewing someone can be nerve wracking. But remember, the other person is probably more nervous than you. They’re the one being interviewed, after all.
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