Doing an interview series can be a great way to increase engagement and vary the content within your newsletter. Interviews give you the opportunity to share someone else's expertise, and benefit from their unique perspective. But what separates good interviews from great? Here's some of the best advice from expert interviewers.
- Connect with the guest authentically. “The pre-interview is the interview.” — Lewis Howes
- Form relationships outside of content. "Most reporters don’t develop relationships with people. A lot of people just call when something happens. And sources say, ‘Why should I tell you?’ ‘I don’t trust you.’ You don’t get any insight into anything. People answer my call because I develop relationships. I call people at the weirdest times. I make lunch appointments. I’m just interested.” — Kara Swisher
- Treat your guests like the smart adults they are. “Don't suck up to them. Have a real conversation. Ask questions you want to know the answer to. Our theory is that intelligent people want to have intelligent conversations.” — Kara Swisher
- Actively listen. “When [the guest] walks in the room, I ask them, 'What do you want to talk about?' And I may jot down, ‘Hey, here’s two or three ideas' or whatever and I’ll make sure I weave them in. But for the most part, I’m just freewheeling. I’ve found the people who are the most popular episodes, the person walks in and they’re like, ‘Ask me about anything.’ Nothing’s out of bounds. I’m here. I’m basically going to just shoot the shit with you.” — Anthony Pompliano
- Keep guests in the present. "If you see that the interview subject is somewhere else, then try to ask a question that is maybe your most unexpected question and the question that requires the [deepest] look inside themselves." — Dan Rather
- Remember that everyone is human. “Everyone you meet just wants to be seen and heard. After every interview, you know what they would say? ‘Was that okay? How was that? How did I do?’" — Oprah Winfrey
Tactical tips to try:
- Ask each question three times. Ask your question. Then ask it again with a slightly different framing. Ask them to go deeper. "Can you explain that to me?" "Why is that?" "How does it work?" It may feel uncomfortable at first, but repeating your questions with genuine interest can be a tactic to break past top-level answers into deeper analysis.
- Let the silence hang for 30 seconds. Try staying quiet on the other end of the phone. Let your guest talk, and give them the space to come up with something interesting.
- The eyebrow rule. Whenever your eyebrows go up during an interview—you hear something interesting, or confusing, or new—that's where you should focus.