Were continuing with some hints on interviewing techniques.
Last week, we discussed preparation, from the perspective
of the interviewer. This week, were going to talk a
bit about preparing your subject.
It should go without saying that you should do all the homework
possible on the subject you are interviewing, so these hints
today arent about researching and background work that
should go without saying. What we are covering today are a
couple of logistical considerations that you may not have
1. Set the ground rules. This doesnt mean to boss the
subject around, but rather letting him/her know how the interview
will proceed. You sit over here. Im going to sit
over here. The interview will be about ten (15? 20? 30?) minutes
long. Were going to talk a bit about your book, but
more important... What we mean by setting the ground
rules is to put your guest at ease, so that they have a sense
of whats going to happen. Get them a cup of coffee,
or water (the small bottles are perfect). Think of a time
you went into a restaurant and there was neither a hostess
to seat you nor a sign telling you to seat yourself. It felt
weird to not know what you were supposed to do. You have to
answer your subjects questions before they ask them.
2. Dont forget formalities. Have your subject sign a
release if appropriate (more on this in the future.) Explain
what the release means to them.
3. If you have a cheap camera, take a photo of your subject.
Even if its just for memories, a photo in the setting
where the interview takes place is not only pleasant, it could
be helpful for newsletters, promotion or the like.
4. If the guest is an author, dont forget to have them
sign the book - but dont have them sign it before the
interview, sign itafterwards, so they can say nice things
about you - rather than a generic autograph.
5. You might even want to have them look over a list of rules
- sensitive language (again, more on this in the future),
agree on stuff you can and cant talk about, dont
twitch knees, tap table, or pound on the desk for emphasis.
Explain that the short answers are not as useful as longer
answers, and that if they can wrap your question into their
answer, it will be even more useful. For example, if you ask
when did you start writing? the answer shouldnt
be six years ago... but rather I started
writing six years ago... Set vocal levels on your recording
equipment, lay down tone and bars if appropriate, and get
More on questions next week... Until then, keep breathing.