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“Building relationships, personally and professional begins with establishing rapport, getting to know the other person, and ultimately building trust and mutual respect. Becoming an interview guru (or goddess) is a great way to get to know others, and for others to get to know you.” Heidi Richards Mooney
Interviewing others (or being interviewed) for articles, books and stories can be interesting as well as a little daunting. Even for professionals speakers, trainers and presenters who are used to being “on stage” or in the limelight. And there are many different types of interview scenarios you will encounter along the way. You might be the interviewer, seeking information, referrals, leads or confirmation of resources such as a fact-finding mission or simply confirming other research you have conducted.
To get the most out of the Interview process whether you are the interviewer or interviewee takes preparation and practice. The following is a checklist of items to keep in mind when interviewing others or when you find yourself being interviewed.
You may conduct the interview over the phone or in person. In either instance, it is important to know what outcome you want to get from the interview. Preparing questions ahead of time makes the process easier. Whenever possible tape the interview. If you are conducting the interview by telephone, either do so by using a speaker phone and a good tape recorder or hire a service to record the conversation for you (similar to the way tele-seminars are conducted). In person, a good recording device is sufficient. Be sure to ask the other person for permission to record and let her or him know what you intend to do with the recording once it is completed. It is always a good idea to record when you are being interviewed so you can see what areas need improving and in which areas you are strongest. If you are having an in-person interview, and have the opportunity to video tape yourself, all the better!
Here is Your Checklist for Planning a Worry-Free Interview – 21 Tips to make the interviewing process easier and more productive.
____ When requesting interviews be assertive, but polite.
____ Set up and confirm interview times and venue (phone or in person) in advance.
____ Prepare questions in advance.
____ Include the who, what, where, when and why in your interview.
____ When possible do background research of the person you are interviewing or who is interviewing you.
____ Let the interviewee know what you want to discuss and how the information will be used.
____ Be conversational in your tone, this will help put both the interviewee and interviewer at ease.
____ Avoid distractions. Conduct interviews in quiet locations, if possible.
____ Always ask permission before recording the interview. Bring extra tapes and batteries. Take notes as a backup.
____ Ask open-ended questions that require more than “yes” and “no” responses.
____ Try to stay on track during the interview. When you deviate from your planned outcome, the information gathered can get convoluted and unclear. You may find yourself saying something not intended for public broadcast.
____ When you don’t understand the question (or the answer) ask for clarification or examples when needed.
____ When at all possible, avoid getting into a debate during the interview. Keep in mind, that the more controversial the topic, the more difficult it will be to not debate your views or stand on the subject matter.
____ Practice listening. This will make the interview flow more smoothly and open the lines of communication.
____ Read the other person’s body language – shrugs, smiles, facial and body positions often speak volumes.
____ If you are unfamiliar with certain terminology, ask for clarification, including the way the unfamiliar term is spelled. Double-check spellings with other reliable resources (people, dictionaries, etc).
____ Repeat unclear statements to confirm for accuracy.
____ Give proper attribution. It is important to accurately quote and not take remarks out of context which can distort their meaning.
____ Get additional contact information (for any follow up). This includes phone, email and address.
____ After the interview, send a thank you note for the opportunity.
____ If you are the interviewer, transcribe notes as soon as possible after the interview. If you are the interviewee, jot down any questions or comments that come to mind. You may wish to pursue these after the formal interview has ended.
Feel free to print this checklist out and use in your own interview projects.
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