The top tips for conducting a successful and interesting interview with your arts hero
Are you in with a chance to talk to your arts hero? Is there opportunity to talk with somebody who is inspirational to people or likely to help others wanting to follow in their footsteps? Then you’re bound to want to a good job of it. This guide will give you some helpful hints for ensuring the interview goes as smoothly as possible!
This will be broken into 3 sections: the preparation, the actual interview, and the follow-up work.
There will need to be work put in before the interview can take place. Obviously you first need to secure the interview. I often find that email works well, although you could always do it the old fashioned way and pick up the phone. Very often I have made ‘first contact’ through social media platforms like twitter and then followed it up with an email.
Once they have agreed to an interview, you need to arrange a time and place for it to take place. It is always good to have these confirmed in writing, preferably by email so all parties are able to quickly see any amendments and have the details easily searchable.
It is also a good idea to do some prior research into this person, so you are able to make small talk regarding their work, and have a more in depth range of questions. While on the subject of questions, a lot of people will recommend you have your questions pre planned. This is helpful if you are on a tight timeframe, and need to extract the most salient information as precisely as possible.
So you are with the person, questions pre-written, small talk successfully navigated. It’s now time to start the interview. The very first thing you simply MUST do, if recording in any way, is get expressed verbal or written consent for that material to be used and distributed. Without this there could be problems down the road – something you’ll want to avoid.
When asking questions, be confident, without being demanding. It will work in your favour to be more informal – it relaxes the interviewee, meaning they are likely to provide better answers.
Keep an eye on the time, but try not to be constantly checking your watch. By continually checking your phone or watch, it can give the impression you are bored of their answer, and may make them slightly defensive. If not, at the very least it will appear rude.
Be sure to ask all your questions, but don’t necessarily feel obliged to ask them in the order you wrote them down. Interviewing should be like a purposeful conversation, where their answers may very well produce follow-up questions. By showing an interest and interacting with their responses, it will once again help ease their nerves and lead to snippets of information that you may have otherwise missed.
At the end of the interview, ask them to run through any of their social media accounts, or any subjects they would like to ‘plug’. It is a largely harmless practice which gives something back to them for giving you their time. Always leave with a handshake and be sure to thank them!
This next section will depend very much on how the finished interview will be presented to the wider audience. It will vary from person to person, be it video or audio editing, transcriptions, or perhaps just writing up a summary article. It is often good practice to combine one or more of these options together, so provide the widest range of ways for your audience to engage with the content.
Once this has been done, be sure to send the finished piece(s) over to the interviewee, accompanied with another letter of thanks. It is in this letter that you could leave the door open for future interviews by saying something like “I hope we get to do this again in the future.” This is a form of networking and means you have made a ‘contact’ in a particular industry who may be of help to you in the future.
Sending them the content also increases the chances of exposure, as it is highly likely they will share it with their fans through social media outlets, or at least internally inside an organisation, depending on their position. This will be great for your own exposure and again enhance your own networking potential down the road.
There are many fantastic interviews on this website, many of which will serve as a great foundation to base your interviews on.
Best of luck, and be sure to post a link up on Voice for everyone else to enjoy!