Top 10 Tips for Conducting an Exceptional Interview

How to Conduct an InterviewOne of the best ways to create content online is to interview someone – a person who compliments you and your brand or someone who fills the holes in it.

Interviews are extremely beneficial because:

  1. You can generate unique and refreshing content for your audience. You don’t need to be the expert to deliver expert advice.
  2. It can raise your level of authority simply because of the public association that you have with the interviewee.
  3. You build a relationship with the person you are interviewing which could possibly lead to other growth opportunities for you and your brand down the road.

Conducting interviews (especially audio or video interviews), however, is not easy.

At least good ones that are worth people’s time.

Although most of the content is generated by the person you are interviewing, most of the responsibility to fashion an interview worth consuming still lies in your hands – and it’s not just about asking the right questions either.

It’s about genuine interest, flow, vibe, sincerity, concern, digging deeper, defining the unclear, attracting stories, avoiding awkwardness and being conscious about all of that at the same time.

After conducting 20 interviews of my own and being interviewed in more than 30 (and listening to several more!), I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to conduct a worth-listening-to interview, one that is captivating and full of content that your audience wants to hear.

Below are my top 10 tips for conducting an exceptional interview:

10. Remember Who You’re Serving

Two words: Your Audience.

Although the interview may help you and your brand while at the same time help the person you are interviewing (by giving them exposure to your audience) your number one priority should be to enlighten your audience – to get answers that are meaningful from the person you’re interviewing that can better serve those who will eventually consume that content.

Don’t forget.

9. Pre-Interview Homework

There are few things that you should do before the interview actually happens:

  1. Understand a little bit about who you’re interviewing first. Sure, you’re conducting an interview to learn more about a person and what they do, but as the interviewer you should know a little bit more than your audience so that you can properly introduce the person and ask the right questions. If you can find an existing interview with the person on another website, that will be helpful too so you can gauge their style and tone, and create questions for that person accordingly.
  2. Confirm the details of the interview with the person you’re interviewing. This is especially important if you’re interviewing someone in a different timezone. Some things to confirm are:
    • Date and time.
    • Method of communication. (Skype, phone call, smoke signals).
    • Approximate length of interview.
  3. Test your recording equipment!
  4. Prepare a list of questions. See the next tip…

8. Prepare a List of Flexible, Open-Ended Questions and Possible Followup Questions

You should prepare a list of questions that will act as sort of a template for the interview – a guide for the path that you want to take from start to finish.

Not a shopping list that you should stick to 100%.

For each question you should come up with 2 or 3 possible followup questions that might be suitable to ask, depending on the answer.

You probably won’t get to them all, but because they are there it’s a good reminder just in case the perfect opportunity comes up to dig deeper into a topic of interest.

As far as the questions themselves, here are a few basic rules:

  1. Don’t ever ask YES or NO questions.
  2. Don’t ask more than one question at a time.
  3. Keep them relevant but be creative.
  4. Phrase the questions in a way that will allow the person being interviewed to expand.
  5. Offer to show the questions to the person you’re interviewing to make sure they’re comfortable with them, which goes along with…

7. Provide a Welcoming Environment

In order to get the best answers from the people you interview, you’ve got to create a welcoming environment for them.

A comfortable person, one who feels as if they are just having a conversation with a friend, will be more likely to give beefier information in a more enthusiastic and friendly tone, which benefits everyone.

Here are some ways to create a comfortable environment for the person you’re interviewing:

  • Make sure they know all of the details about the interview beforehand.
  • Ask them if they’d like to see the questions first.
  • Thank them for the interview before you even start and welcome them to your audience.
  • Have them listen to a kind pre-written or rehearsed introduction before getting to the questions.
  • Be enthusiastic and actually want to conduct the interview!

6. Allow the Person You’re Interviewing to Talk

One of the worse things you can do as an interviewer is take over the interview yourself. You’ve got to give the person you’re interviewing a chance to communicate as much as possible without interruption. The more they talk – the better.

It’s important to engage in conversation – yes – but there’s a line you can cross where it starts to become rude and/or just not valuable to your audience.

5. Listen!

This may sound obvious, but you’ve got to listen!

Be engaged in the interview – not just a person who reads the questions aloud.

This is much tougher than it sounds. As an interviewer myself, it’s extremely easy to “drift off” while the other person is talking. It’s not that you become bored and uninterested (I hope), but you might “tune out” while you wait for him or her to finish so you can move on to your next question.

Not good, especially because important followup questions are usually lost in the process.

Listen and be engaged.

4. Actually Want to Understand

Along the same lines, you must want to understand – and this can be done on different levels.

On the surface, it’s just about understanding the situation or what’s happening. What did this person do and why is it important to share?

On a deeper level, however, it becomes much more interesting, both for you as the interviewer and those who will eventually listen to it. On the deeper level, it becomes why does this person do what they do, and how.

Pro interviewers like Andrew Warner from Mixergy and David from The Rise to the Top do a fantastic job of actually wanting to learn everything there is to learn about a person or a process – not just the what but also the how and why, and I genuinely feel like it’s because they want to fully understand everything, which is why their shows are so popular.

3. Strive for a High-Quality Production

Bad quality audio or video can ruin a fantastic interview. Some people won’t even listen if the quality isn’t there.

Do whatever possible (within your budget, of course) to conduct a high-quality interview.

I personally use a Heil PR-40 Microphone and conduct most of my interviews on Skype, even if the other person is on a telephone line (I pay $2.99 a month to be able to dial a landline).

I record using Call Recorder for Skype (mac only), although if you’re on a PC I hear that Pamela for Skype is the software of choice.

Also, check out The Levelator, which is a free tool that makes sure both sides of the conversation are at the same level of volume.

2. Never…

  • Ask a Yes or No question.
  • Ask more than one question at a time.
  • Say “…and my next question is…”
  • Allow for an awkward pause or dull moment.
  • Be disrespectful to your audience and the person you’re interviewing.
  • Keep your mouth on your microphone (or breath into the mic) while the other person is talking.
  • Forget who you’re serving.

1. Have Fun!

I know it’s cliche to end a top 10 list with “have fun”, but in this case it will truly help your interview.

Having fun with it will actually make you and the person you’re interviewing much more comfortable, which will lead to better content for your audience.

If you make it seem like a task or a chore, then it will reflect in the interview – and that’s not what we want.

Have fun, enjoy the experience, develop new relationships and generate some amazing content!

Ask the Readers: What Makes an Interview Exceptional to You?

Now it’s your turn.

As a consumer of content please share your thoughts in the comment section about the following question:

What makes an interview exceptional and makes an interview terrible?

Here’s what some people already have to say about it on the SPI Facebook Page:

Jennylou Raya says:

Exceptional is when they show genuine interest in the person, asks questions no one asks but others would be dying to know. Good is consistency from one interview to another without sounding like a broken record when you have a chance to listen to the interview archives all in one day. Terrible is when the interviewer is unprepared and has no clue who they are talking to or knows less than the audience.

Jason Bellomy says:

The main thing for me is that the person conducting the interview does not dominate the conversation. The goal should be to let the interviewee do most of the talking while the interviewer pushes the conversation in a direction where he feels his listening audience would benefit.

Brandon Figueroa says:

Exceptional: the interview is incredibly informative. Meaning, the they ask lots of ‘meaty’ questions (and non of that basic boring stuff) with lots of answers and perspectives that most people haven’t thought of or seen before.

Terrible: Poor audio quality, no one cracks a joke, monotone, uptight, uninformative, repetitive stuff that people already know.

Awesome Interview (Bonus): it’s ‘shareable’. Extremely entertaining AND informative at the same time…

Now – how about you?

  • http://www.fundsofliberty.com Seth

    Great article Pat. I’m getting close to adding a podcast into the mix of thing. This is def a great starting point for me.

    • Pat

      Awesome Seth, glad the timing worked out, and best of luck to you!

      • http://www.blogcommentingtribe.com Dee Kumar

        Great timing simply due to your new reader ‘interview’ challenge!

        Seth, Pat inspired me some week ago to start my own Podcast. The first I recored 3 times before I thought it was good enough and now 2 weeks later I still cringe at it!

        It’s really surprising just how quickly you learn with creating audio, and even though I enjoy writing, audio is definitely an enjoyable change.

  • http://www.chasingpace.com/ Wesley Banks

    Perfect timing once again Pat. I’m going to be adding a podcast in the next few months as well and I just bookmarked this article to come back and reread.

    • Pat

      Nice Wesley! Good luck on your upcoming podcast, I hope it helps you and your brand as much, if not more than what it has done for me!

  • http://www.sparringmind.com/ Gregory Ciotti

    AMAZING, I’m a huge fan of interviews myself and have been meaning to do a few “multimedia” (podcast/video variety) ones in the near future, will definitely be referencing this post plenty.

    • Pat

      Sweet Greg! Then that’s perfect! Looking forward to seeing those interviews in the future.

  • http://www.howtopr.co.uk Robbie @ How To PR

    An exceptional interview is one where the interviewer asks the questions that you (the listener) are thinking at the time. Too many people are so worried about what to ask next they don’t listen to the interviewee’s response. There is nothing worse than hearing a guest be asked the question he’s just answered, all because the host wasn’t listening to what he was just saying.

    Terrible interviews include when it’s obvious the host is just reading a list from a piece of paper, or just aren’t interested in the guest.

    As a TV producer I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over the years and the best ones are when you have a (structured) chat with someone. It’s definitely something you get better at with practise.

    It’s definitely worth having a pre-interview with a guest where you go through the questions in advance – you should always know what their answer is going to be once you’re on the air/recording.

    • Pat

      Great insight here Robbie – thank you so much! And I totally agree, you get much better with practice – I’ve found that to be the case myself too. Cheers!

  • http://www.PurpleandSpice.com Sharon Fiberesima

    Hi Pat, this is an exceptional article and really on point particularly because I’m thinking of adding interviews to my blog. As I began reading I was asking what tools you used; I’m glad I read to the end because you answered the question already.
    Thank you.

    • Pat

      Glad I was able to cover the tools I used for you before you even asked! If you have any other questions, please let me know! Thanks!

  • http://bandmarketingpodcast.com Dustin

    Thanks for these great timely tips, Pat. I’ve definitely noticed how you conduct your interviews with enthusiasm and the desire to clarify the most relevant information for your listeners. I haven’t seen a lot of good information on HOW to conduct an interview so this post really helps fill that gap. Much appreciated!

    • Pat

      Thanks Dustin, I appreciate that. Most of it comes from myself wanting to understand exactly what’s going on too. Glad this is helpful to you! Cheers!

  • http://www.thesurvivalmom.com Lisa

    Pat, I also find myself drifting off at times. Not a good way to be engaged enough to ask good follow-up questions. I’ve also noticed, when I’m listening to a re-play of an interview, that my “agreeable noises”, like “uh-huh” and “yeah” make me sound like a rank amateur! I’ve found that focusing on one improvement at a time by posting a little reminder to myself where I can see it, has helped improve my interviewing skills.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Pat

      Ahh – good call on the “uh-huhs” and “yeahs” – I didn’t even think of those, but you’re absolutely right. I’m pretty sure I have a lot of those as well. Thanks for your insights Lisa!

  • http://www.dansumnerblog.com Dan Sumner

    These are going to come in so handy for when I start my Podcast pat. Thank you for the tips.

    I think pr-interview homework is essential. Knowing a decent amount of info about your interviewee is going to carry a ton of weight in the interview, especially if you end up having to ad-lib.

    Thanks Pat

    • Pat

      Definitely Dan, and ad-libbing is definitely something that happens in every single interview too. Practice makes perfect, but prep work goes a long way. Thanks Dan!

  • http://www.parenthoodpuzzle.com Karin

    Brilliant article and just in time for me! I’m conducting my first ever interview with a Swedish child helath care expert and PhD over Skype (using Call Recorder) next week. I’ve been trying to get some hands on advice on what to think about, and BOOM your article landed on your FB Page! Some might even call it a synchronicity ;-) Hope you feel better!

    • Pat

      Feeling much better today – thanks Karin! Glad to be able to post this for you before your interview. Good luck! :)

  • http://www.makemoneywithnowork.com/ Patrick

    Some great tips here and I can vouch for some of the wisdom first hand because I was recently interviewed myself on two different websites.

    I really believe that the best interview is directly attributed to a great story. And this is exactly why I have been interviewed recently…I have a great story to tell people.

    Pat, I gotta be honest here…..your website and the methods that you teach have transformed my life.

    I used to work a day job that I did not much care for. The work was soul crushing at 40 hours per week, in an office environment, and I dreaded the idea that I would have to keep it up for the rest of my life.

    I found your site and I put in a ton of work. On the weekends and in the evenings, I started publishing some really insightful ideas on a website that I built from scratch.

    I started out slowly and kept adding useful content to my flagship site. Promotion was done by a few key guest posts. Eventually, I built a community around my ideas by adding a user forum and stimulating discussions in the comments of the site.

    I made some custom content that was “super premium,” much like some of your resources are in terms of quality and length. I published several free eBooks that went into great detail about my topic. And without any formal Photoshop training, I pieced together a couple of custom infographics.

    As I did all of this stuff, my monthly income was slowly rising. A short while after passing $1,000/month, I hit $2,000/month.

    Then something amazing happened. I was approached with an unsolicited offer from one of my advertisers who wanted to buy my website. After telling him it was not for sale, the buyer said “you don’t understand….I will pay you $200,000 for your website!”

    This stopped me dead in my tracks, and I could not refuse his offer. Online income is great, but I can always build more if it with more websites in the future. Having passive investment income from this website sale was too good to pass up.

    So I took the deal and now I continue to build my online empire, chasing more passive income streams and building a new business.

    I would love to tell my full story to your readers on SPI, and I have carefully polished and crafted a guest post that gives all the details. Please let me know if you are interested in sharing the full case study with your readers.

    A great interview is fueled by great storytelling.

    Any interviewer should seek to draw out the best story, the one that the audience really wants to hear….

    • http://www.wpsprout.com Andy

      Awesome story, Patrick. I for one would love to hear more about it. There are so many of us striving to achieve that same freedom. Congrats!

      Pat, outstanding post. I know exactly where to come when I’m ready to start a podcast.

      • Pat

        Cheers Andy! Thanks!

    • Pat

      Hi Patrick! WOW! What a story you told here, even in the comment section. Definitely makes me want to learn more, and of course I’m very happy for you! A six-figure deal?! Seriously, well done to you! I would love for you to share more for the podcast to talk about your success. I’ll get in contact with you in the near future. Cheers, and again – well done! Congrats!

  • http://www.buybmrposts.com Thomas @ Buy BMR Posts

    Hopefully this post will encourage people to start doing audio interviews as they can really be helpful in absorbing content in a way that text can’t. It’s just finding the courage to put yourself out there and step out of your comfort zone. Hearing your own voice being played back may sound really weird to you, but it’s what everyone else is used to hearing, so it really is no big deal :)

    • Pat

      Definitely Thomas – it’s a little weird and uncomfortable at first, but breaking through and being consistent with it can go a very long way. Cheers!

  • http://www.internetmarketingtofreedom.com/ Nathan Sloan

    Nice Pat,
    Right on topic. I have my Podcast microphone coming in the mail.
    Thanks for the tips.

    • Pat

      Nice Nathan! Good luck with your podcast and enjoy the new mic!

  • http://getbusylivingblog.com Benny

    Timely post for me Pat! Been wanting to do interviews but am torn between doing only an audio podcast or doing video (with audio only as well).

    I know you’ve done only audio here, but have done video interviews for others.

    Podcasting is more popular, but I see video interviews being done more and more.

    What would you suggest?

    • Pat

      I like the audio interviews – I’m not really sure how many people actually sit and watch two talking heads for more than 20 minutes…most probably have it on on the background anyways. Couldn’t hurt though, right? Really, it’s up to you dude ;)

  • http://www.howyoucanmakemoneyytoday.com rory

    Outstanding information again Pat. I would like to implement some of these techniques in some of my future websites.

    • Pat

      Thanks Rory!

  • http://passivenicheincome.com Mike Long

    Having been on both sides of the interview microphone, I would have to say the following covers it for me.

    Exceptional: When both the interviewer and (especially) the interviewee are passionate about what they are doing, and excited to talk about it. You can easily hear enthusiasm in a person’s voice as they go through the interview, and that tends to keep my attention highly focused.

    Terrible: I know this may not be a popular response, but for the interviewer especially, make sure you can converse clearly in the language your target audience speaks. Nothing is more frustrating than listening to an interview that you can only clearly understand half of. It does your listeners a disservice. There’s absolutely no shame in asking someone who is better versed in the language to ask your questions for you. Remember…your readers/listeners come first!

    Pat, your list was fantastic, and I will take on your recommendations on microphones and software as I prep for my first podcasts and start to find my voice again. :)

    • Pat

      Awesome Mike – great additional information, thank you! The passion part plays a huge role, indeed. Cheers, and all the best to you!

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    Great advice Pat and welcome back! I’m sending out questions for my first interview tomorrow, what advice would you have for a written interview?

    • Pat

      Keep the questions interesting and open-ended, your goal is to get as much information as possible from the person you’re interviewing. Also, I’d send less questions, but beefier ones, as opposed to more light ones? It looks very intimidating to get a ton of questions in written form that you know you’re going to have to answer with text.

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        Thanks for the tips Pat!

  • http://www.ramblingsofawahm.com Allie

    Pat,

    I have listened to all your podcast interviews and caught you drifting off. Don’t deny it, you did. LOL. Actually, it seemed you were thinking about something the interviewee stated early in his statement, you tuned out for a moment trying to process what he just said and when he was finished you hesitated with his last words. It’s not that you weren’t paying attention, I think you were trying to build on what he said.

    BTW, the latest interview with Chris Guthrie was funny. You guys kept cracking up and it really took the edge off of the seriousness of a business topic but not too much that you guys were careless. You really seem like friends. It was nice.

    ~Allie

    • Pat

      Oh I know I did Allie, that’s why I mentioned it in the post! I only speak from experience here on SPI ;)

      Chris and I are good friends, so we’re definitely down for a laugh here and there, hehe. Thanks for your support Allie! Next podcast coming soon!

  • http://www.narrowroadbikers.com Michael

    Pat,

    I just recently interviewed someone two weekends ago, and one suggestion I can add is keep a notepad and pen handy during the interview. Sometimes while you are interviewing someone, you will have them say something that will make you jot down a keyword or two. By writing these down, you are able to recall what you wanted to expand on when there is an opening, rather than losing the flow of the conversation.

    -Michael

    • Pat

      Good tips Michael – I think when just starting out it may be tough and almost distracting to write things down while listening and making sure to be responsive in a followup question, but with practice writing down what a person just said so you can quote it later in the interview would be very powerful. Thanks!

  • http://youronline.biz Jacko

    err…unless your interviewing a politician.

    • Pat

      haha…true :P

  • http://www.lazybastardlife.com Jason

    I feel like a rockstar. I was mentioned in a SPI post. In all seriousness though, this is an excellent post that I hope any would be podcaster reads and takes to heart. With my commute, I have about 9 hours a week of drive time. I would love to have it filled every week with great podcasts.

    • Pat

      You had great comments Jason, thanks again!

  • http://moresocialtraffic.com George Perez

    Pat love your blog, love your content you always have the right stuff to say.

    • Pat

      Thanks George!

  • http://socialwebqanda.com Andrew

    Great post; lots of helpful tips here! I almost get the feeling that some people decide to do interviews to pawn off some of the work onto the interviewee. It might not seem as difficult as researching and writing up a long textual post. But exceptional interviews involve a lot of organizational work on the part of the host to get a good flow going (the “template” point) and plenty of incisive questions that get the interviewee to dig deeper. And the even rarer breed who can spin the discussion into something that is perfect for the blog’s audience–that’s just the best!

    I’m planning start doing some interviews on my blog, and I will definitely be returning to this post.

    • Pat

      I feel the same way too Andrew – a lot of people think it’s an easy way to generate content. Yes – it is, but to generate good content that’s worth listening to…no way, it takes a lot of hard work and prep, like you said.

      Thanks Andrew, I appreciate the support! Cheers!

  • http://www.hang-in-there.com Vic

    Thank for the info! I have yet to do an interview on my blog, but at least I feel more prepared now.

  • http://alistbloggingbootcamps.com Mary | A-List Blogging Bootcamps

    Great article, Pat! Here’s a few more tips…

    It’s good to give your interviewee a brief on how to prepare for the video. The way you both set up the ‘shot’ will determine the quality of the video you end up with:

    *The camera or webcam should be in eye height

    *Use natural light and sit by a window. You’ll get the best result by using the light from the window as your main source of light that strikes the face at about a 45degree angle. Then use a desk lamp to light up the other side of the face.

    * If you use Call Recorder, there are various settings you can use. I suggest using the Multi-track (Advanced) option. This means that you will get a separate track for your video AND the interviewee’s video. That’s much easier to edit.
    Ask your interview partner to record as well – just to be safe :-)

    *Choose the biggest video image size that Call Recorder offers: 640×480

    * When you edit the final video, you can either create picture-in-picture (that’s where the image of you is small and floats within the video of your interviewee), or you can have both videos side-by-side.

    Another nifty editing option (which you can use if you record with the multi-track option) is to just bring in your headshot video with short clips of your questions, and then cut to the interviewee’s answer.

  • http://www.andregarde.com Andre Garde

    This is great advice, Pat, especially for beginners like myself! I just picked up a sweet microphone on sale (the Yeti one) to do some of my training recordings. I’d love to interview someone for a podcast eventually.

    I think in terms of what makes an exceptional interview for me is something that I would listen to again and again. There are a lot of 1-hit-wonder podcasts that are good, maybe even great, but not truly captivating enough for me to listen to it multiple times.

    Then, there are those on endless repeat on my iPod. THOSE are the exceptional ones.

    Andre

  • http://thelast3reps.com Brandon

    I feel honored to be mentioned in your post Pat! Thank you. Doing interviews has always intimidated me, but you’re post definitely made it not so scary. I’ve only been blogging for about 4 months, and interviews are definitely on the ‘to work on’ list because they can definitely provide you with some fresh new content to publish.

    This is a perfect resource post and I’ll be returning to refer to it when I need it.

    Thanks Pat.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I have never interviewed anyone, but from listening to BlogCast FM and interviews you’ve done, it seems like a really hard job, even though the other person is doing most of the talking. I would think that preparing is the key, and having enough relevant questions and come up with new ideas and angles during the interview as well. We, the listeners, wants it to be like a “regular” conversation and for that to happen, it should be naturally. And you should speak like you always speak, not like you’re at a conference and you’re doing a keynote, unless you do it the same way :)

    Your post is an awesome resource.

  • http://fitnessbusinessinterviews.com Erik Rokeach

    Hey Pat,

    Great points on how to do successful interviews.

    I wanted to add a few points to the discussion here since all I do with my site is interviews. My site has around 70 of them posted, but I’ve done close to 175 the past year, and I picked up a few tricks that I’d like to share.

    1) As for drifting off during the interview, the easy way to solve that is simply ask the questions that you want to know the answer too. I’ve found that the questions you want to know the answers too also end up being the ones the listeners want to hear too.

    You’re more likely to pay attention and be engaged when it’s a question you really want an answer to.

    2) I get the question, Which is better, audio, video, or text interviews all the time. I do video interviews, and include audio and MP3 Download, and text highlights. I’ve found that most people read first, listen second, watch third.

    But I continue to do the video because it helps to add credibility and authority to my site and brand. Having people see the interviewer on screen with the guest creates a psychological connection that the interviewer is an authority on the topic. That’s just because of association from seeing the two people together.

    3) Don’t be a robot. When reading the questions and talking, you should do your best to sound natural. This takes practice, but the more you do it the easier it becomes. Sometimes I actually add a few hmm’s or the question…why is that after a response.

    Those little things are VERY powerful, because that allows the guest to dive deeper into their answer and you really don’t have to come up with another question to get more information. That helps to make the conversation flow a little smoother and sound more natural.

    4) Write down the start time, end time, and times when mistakes happen in the interview. I usually talk to the guest a few minutes before and after the interview. I don’t want my visitors to see or hear those conversations. So writing those times down during the interview saves me a ton of time when editing. I can just look at those times I wrote down and go right to that spot to edit.

    5) If you are unable to write down the times where you need to edit during your interview, then as soon as your done load your interview into a VLC player. If you have to go back and edit your interview you can do it a lot quicker if you listen/ watch it first in the VLC player. The VLC player allows you to speed up the time it takes to listen or watch your interview. This cuts my editing time down in half.

    Oh and the VLC player is a free download.

    There are way more tips, but these are some big ones that have helped me a lot.

    Hopefully everyone else will get some use out them too.

    Thanks again for a great post Pat

  • http://www.blogtobusiness.com/ Daniel Roach

    I think one of the best ways to conduct a good interview is to delve into areas and ask questions that other interviewers won’t. Don’t let subjects go with simple answers, instead dig deeper.

    If anyone wants an example of killer interviews, just go find some old episodes of Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell. Art was a brilliant interviewer and managed to make shows about ridiculous topics insanely interesting.

  • http://notordinaryblogger.com Okto

    Great Post Pat,

    this is just what I need as guidance in making interview. I agree with Erik Rokeach about asking the question that I want to know the answer too. That is what I like from make an interview, I can learn too.

    I have further question that keep hover on my mind :
    1. How to choose someone to be the interviewee? I think there will be little chance to approve if new blogger choose the high-profile blogger as the interviewee. Or what do you think?

    2. What should I do if the interviewee not giving any respond about the request? Is it better if I just forget it or I should ask again?

    Thanks for the post Pat

  • http://smallbusinessdevelopmenthq.com Tomas

    An exceptional interview for me would be one in which the perspective and questions asked delve into areas I never thought of. I don’t necessarily need the answer to the question to be mind-blowing–just the question.

  • http://bluecollarliving.com James Dibben

    Great list, Pat!

    I loved having you on my show. You are very easy to interview.

    Everyone I ever interviewed on my podcast was very passionate about their topic. I really believe that was what made interviews easy for me. I could just sit back and relax and enjoy the interview right along with my audience.

  • http://www.eventualmillionaire.com/blog/ Jaime @ Eventual Millionaire

    I love this post! I used to listen to SO many interviews before I started interviewing and all of your tips is what I found.

    I want to hear the expert talk, I want to learn a few personal things I can connect with and I want to hear something I don’t know.

    Plus I want it to be relaxed. Both sides of the mic need to have a good time. I don’t want it to feel like pulling teeth! (haha, that joke was for you Pat ;)

  • http://rosemaryjayne.com Rosemary Jayne

    These are some really great tips Pat. I’ve been listening to Cliff Ravenscraft (who I found via your podcast) and I’m working on starting my own podcast too. Do you have any tips for finding people to interview? I’ve been thinking of asking some of my readers who I know have got an interesting story.
    P.S. I think my favorite interview in your podcast was with your son, I certainly hope he comes back when he’s a little less shy of being on air!

  • http://strengthinbusiness.com/ Krisz Rokk

    Thanks for the tips. No. 10 is my favourite: Remember Who You’re Serving – Your Audience. An exceptional interview is one that entails FAQs.

  • http://kck.st/wp84JD Brian Kwong

    As always, great tips here Pat!

    Since I had been interviewing successful Kickstarter project owners, one thing I learned and would like to add is:

    Ask questions surrounding the title of the interview and in a logical flow of the story, from point A to point B to point C.

    Often times, I hear interviewer ask random questions or reading off a question list that jumps all over the place which is hard to follow and this often lead to going off topic instead of diving in depth around the title of the interview. Which is the very reason why people are listening to the interview in the first place.

    I hope this comment contributes to this conversation =)

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    A few things I used to do early on that I’ve since corrected and gotten better at…

    - I used to say “umm” and laugh a lot. Well, not belly laugh or anything like that, but I’d certainly laugh in agreement or something.
    - Every now and then, there’d be a pause where I thought the person I was interviewing was going to go on to complete a sentence but they didn’t. Thank goodness for editing!

    I’ve done quite a few interviews and to date, I’ve gotten better at controlling what comes out of my mouth and editing the final product. To me, the most time consuming part is the editing. Sometimes I hate listening to my own episodes. Something about the sound of your own voice and all. The rest of it is pretty fun actually.

  • http:/www.makesweetmoney.com Gary Huynh

    That’s a very thorough list of interview tips. I am a big fan of Andrew’s interviews at Mixergy and notice that he’s not afraid to ask about anything that needs clarification. Sometimes the interviewee will refrain from answering. I will definitely keep these thoughts in mind the next time I’m being interviewed or giving an interview.

    Best regards,
    - Gary

  • http://www.onlinebizgiant.com/easycash/ Sajan Elanthoor

    Pat, once again an awesome as well as very informative post. Personally I hear lots of interviews especially in IM niche to upgrade my knowledge. Many of the times the interviewer kills the interest of the interview because of his borring questions and unorganized systems. Your post is very informative and I will certainly concenterate these things when I make interview with somebody. By the way I’m interested to have your interview in the near future:)

  • http://videohero.com jules @ Video Hero

    One trick I use in TV interviews is to always ask an open ended question at then end Sometimes the interviewee is bursting to tell you something amazing but if they never get asked the question they never say it. So I say “Is there anything we didn’t cover or that you want to share that I missed?” Obviously this works if you can do a small and easy edit later to weave it back in to the main interview.

  • http://www.annieandre.com Annie Andre

    Great advice Pat,
    I’ve been scared to interview people but need to for un upcoming project i’m doing. I had planned on doing research about it. I usually do overkill so in the least you’ve saved me hours of agony by laying it out very simply for the novice.

    I wanted to ad that Pamela didn’t work so well for me so i use G-Recorder. It automatically records or i can have it prompt me. And then it emails me the recording automatically which is nice to have as a back up.

    Do you know what software to use if ou want to record with Video. The kind where you can see both people in the window pain? Thanks in advance. p.s. My offer to come and stay with us in France is still open. :)

  • http://Circleofdocs.com Beau P

    Great stuff here Pat! Would love to see a post on HOW to set up a podcast that goes onto ITunes like your SPI is…

    Keep rockin it man and I look forward to us connecting soon
    Beau

    • http://enggworld.in sai krishna

      you are right Beau :) agree with you

  • http://ethemeshub.com sai krishna

    yes ! i agree with you pat .. i have very nice experience with my first interview (interview with Brian D. Hawkins).. now i’m going to post some more interesting articles on my blog ;)

  • http://blogs.fanextra.com Tom Ross

    Great tips Pat. You were my first ever audio interview, and I think it definitely helps to be a follower of someone online before the interview. If you go to interview someone and didn’t know anything about them before a bit of pre-interview research it won’t be as insightful as an interview with someone who’s really influencing you.

  • http://lifesearlyadapter.com Ryan C McKay

    Wow…couldn’t agree more! A couple of additions if you don’t mind:

    1. don’t try to get the inverviewee to make uncomfortable or controversial comments.

    2. Find out BEFORE the interview how the interviewee’s schedule looks like so you can properly respect their time.

    3. TEST your recording system before each podcast (gotta remember to follow my own advice on this one!).

  • http://www.playaggressivepoker.com gibbers

    thanks for the post, found it very enlightening – will try thesee points out next time i have an interview

  • http://www.brockstarlife.com/ Brock @ BrockStarLife

    Great timing…I’m just getting into interviews as supplement/replacement blog entries. It sounds like doing an audio interview isn’t too much harder than a plain old text Q&A, so might try that instead. I always enjoy the podcasts here because you can leave it on while you fold the laundry, make dinner, or whatever.

    Thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.waltermartinsales.com Walter Martin

    Great information! I had never thought about doing an interview for a website but this is a great idea. I think I am going to pursue it with one of my retail manager friends. Now I have all the information to conduct a GREAT interview. Thanks again for the great content!

  • http://mywebhostingbonus.com/blog/the-hosting-domain-formula Daniel

    Hey, Pat

    Long time reader here, this one was really helpful!! I was intending to perform some interviews with rock musicians for my forthcoming rock and metal website and these tips are very, very helpful to do so.

    Thanks so much,

    Daniel.

  • http://www.morewebsitetrafficguide.com/ Spatch Merlin

    Great tips listed here! I just finished listening to one of your podcast and I must say the quality is A-class. I am planning on making some podcasts myself but still is hesitant to do it. You’ve given me good ideas here buddy.

    Spatch Merlin
    From More Web Site Traffic Guide

  • Kevin
    • Pat

      Are you really trying to leave an adsense ad in the comment section Kevin? Thanks for the publisher ID – you should hear from Google about this soon.

      • http://lifesearlyadapter.com Ryan C McKay

        hey, he’s still a step ahead of me- I’ve just been calling random people and then singing my jingle… (cough cough)…

  • http://swtordominance.com/ Aric Jorgan

    Hi PAt, this might be off topic but since saw you replying recently on this thread, i just figured you might see this message. Can I ask how to create or what services do i need to create an action area at the end of each blog post, similar as yours?
    That neat little box where you have the sign up form for the smart ebooks at the end of the blog posts? Thanks

  • http://templates.motocms.com/ Tina

    100% agree – the worst thing in the interview is when it contains repetitive info people already know. A great exhaustive info, thanks!

  • http://CashFlowsToo.com Monty Campbell

    Great Information Pat,

    I found out about your blog from podcasts. Smart Passive Income with Patt Flynn was recommended on iTunes by the apple staff. I found your blog and one other I found of value. From that moment on I learned more about blogging that I ever expected.

    I’m an online ideologue. I come from the dotcom boom world that shows how business use to make money. There is a part of me that wants to bring back some of those elements off success to the new level of business opportunity. Its count intuitive to Tim Ferriss and the 4 hour work week. But its something in my heart that I would like to see happen. God willing a podcast and interview process will be effective for me in a measure as it has been for you.

    God Bless Pat and I wish you and your family continued success.

  • Christie White

    Heya Pat,
    Thank you so much for another excellent post! It occurred to me as I was reading that there is a podcast I listen to that violates almost every one of your suggestions, esp #6 & #9. I put up with it because the content is compelling enough for me right now. But it’s absolutely exhausting to get through a show and I find myself rolling my eyes and “air critiquing” (like air guitar). I don’t know how long I’ll last, especially now that you’ve raised my consciousness on this topic. My best, CW

  • http://fitnessblackandwhite.com/ Kevin McMillian

    Awesome post … I’m getting ready to conduct my first interview and this definitely helps me get into the right mindset … and warns me not to be BORING!

    Thanks,
    Kevin

  • http://www.smartforexeducation.com Ken

    Hi Pat,

    Great advice, as always.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Ken

  • Jillian

    Thank you for this article! So helpful. How do you approach compensating for the interviewee’s time and information? Is this seen as a barter situation or would most professionals seek a dollar amount? Thanks again!

  • http://www.whatsonmybrain.com Joshua Houghton

    Hey Pat,

    I personally suck at interviews, but I recognize how critical they can be when building content and providing value. My question to you is do you think you could hire someone, like from Elaine or whereever to conduct your interviews for you?. My blog has a magazine style and feel with me just being the mastermind. I want to provide interviews to my readers but I’m sooooo awful at it. Would love to hear your thoughts on outsourcing interviews.

    Josh

  • http://www.lazytechguys.com Radford Castro

    How about I interview you using the same techniques I learned on this post – and you tell me what you think? I’m quite serious. I’ve ran a podcast for the last year or so and these tips definitely helped. Thanks again!

  • http://dayjobknockout.com/ Chris Deals

    Thanks for the tips Pat. I’m prepping for my first interview in about two hours, nervous but confident it will be fun and informative. Also thank for the extra encouragement via your reader challenges.

  • jameshartlaw

    These are great tips Pat. I realize you posted this quite some time ago, but I’m just getting ready to interview my first guest tomorrow and this has been a godsend. Your advice about call recorder for Skype is especially helpful – all the other “experts” out there make recommendations that involve 2 computers, another mic, or a mixer – none of which I have. Thank you for some great evergreen content! (Although I think that the levelator has been discontinued). Thanks!
    Jim Hart

  • http://samuelhatton.com Samuel Hatton

    Patt, this was very helpful.

    I’m pleased to tell you that I recorded my very first podcast interview. I was getting my final testing of equipment and refining of questions up when I thought that I should search for a blog article that you may have written about podcasting tips. This was it!

    This post served as a GREAT checklist and reminder before going live. I plan on coming back to this resource often while I’m getting comfortable. Thanks!