Interview tips, part 2

In a week filled with interviews, I’m compelled to continue sharing some interview tips that I’ve learned through the years.

Always ask if he/she has anything else to add. I save this question for the end and always ask it.  Sometimes I get totally new information on this question.  Most of the time, the person sums up the main points of what they said when I ask this.  It helps me understand their focus and viewpoint even better.

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If your source tells you something that you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to speak up.  While you should do enough background research to be familiar with key terms and topics, you don’t know everything.  Never pretend to understand something you don’t.  It only leads to trouble.

Always take notes. Recording interviews is fine, but never rely completely on the recorder.  I don’t record often these days, but when I do, I take notes like I’m not.  Recently I conducted two phone interviews where my recorder had such bad electronic interference I couldn’t tell what was being said later on.  Without my notes, I would have been in big trouble.

Ask for suggestions of other sources. I don’t always do this, but if you’re covering a topic that you aren’t as familiar with or are having trouble finding people to interview, then don’t be afraid to ask who else the source suggests you talk with.  They may not have suggestions or they may have great suggestions.  I’ve never had anyone be offended by this question.  Most sources know that they aren’t the only person you’re going to talk with for the article.

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