Like any other piece of writing, a compelling article depends largely on you—the writer. Sure, the focus is on someone else’s experience, but you’re the one telling their story. And that requires more than rattling off a list of questions and recounting what you heard.
The Next Time You Conduct an Interview, You Might Try to:
Prepare questions beforehand and share them with your subject. A little prep encourages more thoughtful dialogue and reflection.
Be conversational. The more it feels like a conversation versus an interrogation, the more authentic the responses will be.
Be willing to go off script. In fact, look for opportunities to do so. If you think of a good follow-up question—ask it, even if it seems a little tangential. Often, those unexpected asides infuse a story with personality.
Practice empathy. People can sense your energy. Do your best to put your subject at ease and be responsive to their emotions.
In the same vein, listen, and listen carefully. If something seems especially significant to your subject, go deeper with your questioning, or give them time to reflect and add to their initial response before rushing on.
Ask, “Is there anything else you’d like to add?” There’s no better way to capture the unique or unpredictable than with a final, open-ended question.
Bonus: If you have a bit of background information, don’t stop there. See what else you can find online. Even if it doesn’t generate new questions, the extra intel will provide context that could help drive a more personal conversation.
When It’s Time to Write…
Determine your main thesis and scrap anything that feels superfluous. While building your article around the most compelling insights, let your subject help tell their story. Using direct quotes to weave a narrative together is a powerful way to invoke emotion and develop a more dynamic cadence.
And when it comes time to wrap it up, you have plenty of options. As you mull over the conclusion, consider how you want to leave the reader feeling. I often find that one final anecdote or quote hits just the right note.