We’ve talked about interviews on this blog before. Showcasing your company’s expertise by interviewing your employees, partners, and happy clients is a valuable and powerful way to tell your brand’s story.

But how do you actually do it? And how do you get the most out of that interview?

As a former journalist (who has interviewed lots of people) I’m here to help. Here are my tips for getting an interview filled with the kind of great quotes and information you can use in your content.

Do your homework. Even if your interview subject sits three desks over from you at your start-up, do a little research. Don’t be a creeper or anything — your research doesn’t have to be exhaustive — but you are going to want to familiarize yourself with some basic information about who your subject is, how they came to be associated with your company, and what their story is. If it’s a client you’re interviewing, for example, you’re going to want to know when they started doing business with you and what problem you’ve solved for them. You’ll need this information for step two.

Write your questions. You don’t necessarily need a ton of questions, and they don’t need to be the best questions ever written. Just get the basics: Who are you? What do you do? Why did you choose to work with us? How do we solve your problems? Even if the questions seem obvious, write them down. In some cases (if you’re doing the interview on camera, for example) you might need the interview to stand alone and tell a story and those basic questions will provide important background information for your audience.

Send those questions ahead of time. You want your subject to be as comfortable as possible, so let them review your questions ahead of time. If they have some time to think about the questions, you’ll get better answers during your interview. Also let them know that you may need to ask some follow-ups or get some clarifications at the end of the interview.

Keep it as short as you can. Interview fatigue is a real thing. Most people you’ll be talking to aren’t used to being interviewed and a long list of questions might seem intimidating to them. So just get what you need from the interview.

Get good art. This won’t be an issue for video, but for a written interview, you want your audience to know whose words they’re reading. Get a good picture that shows your subject’s face clearly. If you’re doing the interview in person, take a photo (a headshot is ideal). If not, ask your subject to send you a photo of themselves. Many people have a headshot they use for all their professional online work. If your subject has a photo they use in all their branding, ask for that.

Get approval. Sometimes, you need to edit a written interview. This can be an issue when you’re trying to condense a long interview into one 1500 post, or if your subject heads off on a tangent that doesn’t quite fit. (Or curses a lot and your stylebook doesn’t permit vulgarity. It happens.) The problem with editing interviews? It changes direct quotes. Sometimes, it changes quotes a lot. To avoid putting words in people’s mouths, send the drastically-changed quotes to your subject, explain that you had to change them, and ask if the new quote is okay with them. Most people are pretty cool about changed quotes. Some will even help you edit them down or will ask if they can add to them.

Have fun. It’s okay if you’re nervous. I’ve been doing interviews for almost 20 years now and I am nervous before every. single. one. It’s just stage fright. You’ve got your subject, done your research, written your questions down, and you can just start by reading them. If it helps, remember that the interview isn’t about you; it’s about your subject. Take a deep breath — you’ve got this.

Need help? I’m a freelance content writer and, as I mentioned, a journalist. So if you need me to do your interviews, or write your questions for you, get in touch today. We’ll do a free 15 minute call to see if we work well together.