Monday, January 30, 2012

Interviews Part Three: Creating Your Questions

The right interview questions can make or break your article.
Photo by graur codrin

Now that you know who you are going to be interviewing, it's time to set up your interview questions.  While you might come up with a couple during the course of the interview, you need to know ahead of time what you are planning to ask.

Guidelines for Creating Interview Questions:

1.  Don't ask yes/no questions.  Keep questions open-ended.

2.  Work toward your interview subjects' strengths.  You chose these people for a reason.  A great starting point is "What is your position on..." or "How does your work directly affect the...."  These could also provide cues for some great off-the-cuff questions.

3.  Be careful to avoid bias.  You likely are trying to prove/disprove a thesis statement in your article, but there's no reason to advertise this fact.  Frame your questions carefully to avoid any appearance of bias.

4.  As writers, we have a tendency to write flowery sentences.  Knock yourself out in your article, but keep your interview questions short and to the point.

5.  Put a limit on the number of questions.  As tempting as it is to ask everything under the sun (especially if it's a topic that is especially dear to your heart), asking five really good questions can provide you with all the information you need for your article.  Remember that your interview subject's time is just as valuable as yours, and unless you are paying them for the interview, they are doing you a huge favor.  Want to increase your chances of interviewing them again?  Respect them by keeping your interview short and to the point.

1 comment:

  1. That first point is an absolute must. And you know how I hate absolutes! :) If you want information, you have to ask it so they'll give you something more than yes/no.

    Good post, Amelia!