Whether writing contemporary, historical, sci-fi or fantasy, an interview can be a great opportunity to develop a character or learn about something you didn’t know about before.
Now, with the internet and video calling, conducting interviews and searching for experts or connections is much more accessible.
What do you do once you’ve scheduled the interview and found your expert? These tips will make the process go smoothly.
1.Keep a record of everyone you interview. This can be useful if you want to include them in your acknowledgements or if you need to keep track for follow up questions.
2. Prepare your interviewees. You’ll notice this has the most bullet points. Success has a lot to do with preparedness, so this portion will take up the most time.
- Send them a summary of the types of questions your asking and how the interview will be conducted. Introduce yourself and your writing. Tell your interviewee how much time the interview will take and make sure to stay on that schedule and respect their time.
- Place your most pressing questions first, in case the interview runs long and you can’t ask your last questions.
- Test your technology before beginning the interview. Whether you’re using Zoom, Skype, or your phone, make sure any technical issues are worked out beforehand. Send invitations to Zoom appointments in your calendar event.
- Provide questions ahead of time to give your interviewees time to think of answers and stories.
- Gather background information and learn as much as you can about your research subject.
3. Come up with your interview questions beforehand
Type out your interview questions beforehand and be willing to change them if your interviewee takes the conversation in a new direction.
4. Ask for interview references
Often interviewees will know other experts that could help you. Don’t be afraid to ask, especially if the interviewee is excited about your project.
5. Be a good listener
Let interviewees talk and don’t interrupt. Something unexpected may come out of what they say, such as new plot points and character ideas.
Find a non-disruptive way to record your interviewee. If you are a fast enough writer, use a notepad or type into a document. If you are using Zoom or another application with recording capabilities, make sure to get permission from the interviewee to record their voice.
6. Finish the interview by reminding the interviewee of the process
Let them know what your next steps are, how the information might be used, and when you expect the project to be finished. Let them know
Tip: After the interview, send an email to thank the interviewee. Go the extra mile with a handwritten note or a gift to thank them. If they are looking for publicity, ask how you can promote them after the interview.