- KNOW exactly where you are going to conduct the interview. A cafe might be a great way to put your interviewee at ease but the background noise might be really distracting.
- LIMIT DISTRACTIONS. If you’re in an office environment, divert your calls and make sure your phone is off or at least on silent. The same should go for the interviewee.
- KNOW YOUR QUESTIONS. It can be easy thinking up questions when you’re not actively having a discussion. Write your questions down and make sure you tackle each one during the allotted time.
- MAKE QUESTIONS RELEVANT. It’s one thing knowing your questions but you also have to make sure they relate to the topic. Do your research well and you should end up with a comprehensive list of relevant questions.
- USE OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS. Using phrases like ‘Tell me about when..’ and ‘Where did you..’ will help put the person at ease and also get them talking. It’s natural to clam up when faced with lots of questions so try to keep things relaxed.
- ASKING ‘WHY?’ CAN BE DRAINING. It makes people act defensively as it can sound like your questioning their whole reasoning. Using alternatives such as ‘how’ will sound less intimidating and could lead to a more-rounded answer.
- GUIDE YOUR INTERVIEWEE. If you have written down your questions, you will know which ones are perhaps trickier than others. Try to get them relaxed and talking before you ask them something difficult or start to probe into something they might initially find difficult to answer.
- But DON’T LET THEM STRAY. Some people find it difficult to stay on topic. If they start waffling about something that’s not relevant, bring it back to the subject at hand. Of course, if you’re interviewing for a job, their failure to explain things in a succinct way may be far more revealing.
- BE PREPARED FOR THE UNEXPECTED. People will sometimes reveal so much more in their answers than you expected. Make sure you are listening. It could just present an opportunity to ask a question you never thought would come up. Pay attention to what your interviewee is really saying and be prepared to act on it.
- LET THEM ASK YOU. Most people will have questions which they want answered themselves. What’s more, what they ask will also be an indication of their feelings towards the whole interview itself.
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