blogging tips, Writing Tips

How to Conduct an Interview

We are writers, not reporters, and yet, the time may come when it is necessary for us to conduct an interview. Perhaps we need to speak to a war veteran about the reality of war, or perhaps we need to talk to a high school barista. By interviewing real-people with real-life experiences, we can add a level of authenticity to our narratives instead of filling pages with guess-work and speculations. Whatever your reason may be, if you have to conduct an interview, here are some suggestions.

Plan & Prepare for the Interview

  • While people may encourage you “to wing it” because it will be a more “natural” conversation, I highly suggest that you plan ahead. If you decided to just “wing it,” the conversation is more likely to be filled by awkward silences and might even lead to your interviewee thinking that they are wasting their time. So here are some ways to prepare:

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  • Ask them ahead of time, don’t just spring it on them.
  • After deciding who you are interviewing, decided why. What is your primary reason for interviewing them, what is the thing you want to learn most about them.
    • Having considered your objections, make a list of questions. You do not have to use every question. If you ask one question and that leads into the next question not on your list but it’s where you want to go, then follow that line of questioning, but it’s good to have those questions there in case you hit a dead end.
    • Try to avoid questions that force a specific “yes” or “no,” “this” or “that” answer. Use open-ended question such as “why” and “how”

Interviewing your Guest

  • While you are obviously going to be asking questions, try not to dominate the conversation. Be a good listener. You are there to prompt the conversation, not to add in your own experiences or thoughts.
  • Be considerate. If you told your interviewee that you will be there for an hour, don’t go over, even if you have more questions without asking them if they are available. Most people have busy lives.

Not done yet…

  • Thank your subject both in person and either: a call, an email, or a hand-written note. They took time to help you with your questions so be kind.
  • Immediately after, go over your notes and spend some time reflecting on the interview. Expand on your notes and answers while the event is fresh in your memory.

So, get out there and get writing! Don’t know enough about your subject? Start Interviewing!

Happy Writing Everyone!

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Blogs / Life

Five Tips to Nail that Interview

Let’s just say that this season of my life has been a season of interviews: round after round of meeting new people and doing my best to put my best foot forward (instead of in my mouth). As authors, poets, or simply people, we will find it necessary from time to time to do our best to make a good impression. So here are my tips for your next interview, whether it be for a job or with an agent.

1. Do your Research

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Come on, listen to Benedict Cumberpatch, he knows what he’s talking about. When you are applying for a new job, learn everything you can about that position. What is expected of you? What will your responsibilities be? Not only is it a good thing to look prepared and knowledgeable about the position, but it gives you the chance to come up with your own questions. Interviewers may ask if you have any questions, and it’s not a bad thing if you do! Having questions doesn’t take away from your abilities, it shows your interest and your dedication to learning.

2. “Dress to Impress”

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Okay, okay, you do NOT have to “Suit Up.” Well, not normally, it really depends on the job that you are applying for. If you are applying for a corporate position, well then yes, break out that suit. If you are applying for a elementary teaching position, perhaps a button-down shirt and tie will do (skirt or nice pass for ladies). If you are applying for construction job, nice jeans and button-down shirt. No matter the position, the point is to dress nicely and look professional. It shows that you are taking this interview and their time seriously and it shows that you take yourself seriously too.

3. Breathe and Think Before Answering Questions

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Sometimes in an interview, you feel like you need to answer their questions rapid fire. You don’t want to look stupid so you say the first thing that comes to mind so that there won’t be a long, awkward pause. That can lead to blurting out things you wish you had not said. So instead, take your time. Before the interview, consider common questions asked in interviews and have your answer ahead of time. When you are in the interview and they ask a question that throws a curve just say, “Hm, let me think.” And take a breath and think. Give yourself 5-10 seconds (no longer) and then answer. Yes, there was a slight pause, but it is better to wait and give a good answer instead of blurting out something you wish you could take back.

4. Be Honest

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Don’t lie in an interview. Just repeat after me, “do not lie in an interview.” Do not suggest or hint that you are qualified for a job that you aren’t, or that you have more availability than you do, or that you have more experience than you do. It’s not fair to the people interviewing you, and it’s not fair to you. If you do this, you are only setting yourself up for complications and stress. Be honest with the interviewers, most the time they will appreciate the honesty. Maybe this tip won’t guarantee you the job, but it is the right move.

5. Be Patient

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Most jobs do NOT simply conduct one interview and hire you on the spot. There are usually rounds of interviews with different people, sometimes assessments and tests. So understand that you need to be patient. Keep moving forward and don’t get discouraged by the length. If you keep getting follow-up interviews, that probably means they like you! So show up, smile, be friendly, be honest, and just do your best.

And hopefully, once some time has passed . . .

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