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Conducting interviews: Four easy tips

Last year, I had the opportunity to work with Ohio State’s Writers Talk and interview two musicians.


John O’Callaghan


William Beckett

At the beginning of May, I interviewed John O’Callaghan from the Main. A week  later, I interviewed William Beckett.

My life goals are not concrete yet, but I have always enjoyed reading magazines like Alternative Press or Rolling Stone. Being able to interview musicians I like made me consider those options a little more.

Anyway. Going in to the interviews, I was not sure what I wanted to ask. I knew I had to touch on their song writing because I was doing the interview for Writers Talk, but other than that I was lost.

Tip number one: do research.


Even though I knew both of the artists and their work, I needed to refresh my mind and delve deeper.

Read old interviews, blog posts, Facebook updates, tweets and anything else you can find.

Reading old interviews allows you to avoid asking repetitive questions. People get tired of answering the same questions. Try to come up with something new or unique.

This is also a time to determine if there are any topics that are off-limits. You do not want to upset or be disrespectful to someone who is giving you their time.

Tip number two: know the medium of the interview.

If you are doing a print interview, ask questions that will be conveyed easily through print. When you transcribe the interview, make sure to note any vocal tones or facial expressions.

I recently read an interview that AbsolutePunk.net did with Craig Owens. I could not tell is he was angry or what. But reading his responses gave me a sense that he was not entirely happy about some of the questions. It could just be my own interpretation. Which is why print interviews can be dangerous.

Audio and video interviews are similar because vocal tone can be heard. Video interviews add a bit more because facial expressions and body language can be seen and interpreted by the audience.

Tip number three: know the length of your interview.

If you know how long the interview is, you can write enough questions to fill that time frame. I was told to fill 15 to 20 minutes. So I wrote 12 to 15 questions. You do not want to waste the time you have with whoever you are interviewing.

Always write more questions than you think you need. It is better to be prepared than to have awkward silence.

Tip number four: don’t be nervous.

I know it can seem intimidating if you are interviewing someone famous or someone you admire. But they are people just like you and I. There is no need to get flustered. If you do get nervous, just breathe and remember that they agreed to the interview so they want to answer your questions.

These are just some of the things I learned through experience. You can check out my interviews below.


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