Eight Tips for Conducting Interviews
Whether you're talking to somebody in person, or interviewing him or her over the phone, there are a number of things you should do to prepare for the interview and during the interview itself.
Do your homework. Learn as much as possible about the subject of your interview in advance. Visit the company (if interviewing a businessperson) or other appropriate Web site (such as the Web pages for a college department if interviewing an expert). Make notes about what you find there, especially about that which you hope to learn during the interview.
Have open-ended questions ready in advance. Prepare more than you'll have time to ask — in anticipation of the interview going well and the subject of your interview asking you to stay (or talk) longer. Such advance preparation also demonstrates that you have done your homework, and that you respect the interviewee's time.
Be courteous. Such courtesy includes being on time. If the interview is to take place in person, dress appropriately, introduce yourself, and have a business card or paper with contact information ready to give to the subject of your interview.
Allow a brief period of time to get to know one another before you start asking questions. Ask the subject of the interview if he or she has any questions to ask about you or the interview protocol before you begin.
Ask for permission to tape the interview. Have your taping equipment — with an adequate fresh battery supply and appropriately sized tapes — ready in advance. Regardless of whether or not you receive permission to tape your discussion, also have a notepad and pen or pencil ready so you can take notes. (If the interview is in person, also take notes about the atmosphere and any body language.) Never rely on your memory alone.
Confirm and clarify, and then confirm again. Ask for proper spellings for any names or terms about which you're unsure. Confirm that you have the correct spelling of the name of the subject of your interview. Get clarification on any new terms brought up during your discussion.
End the interview on friendly terms. Thank the subject of your interview for his or her time. Ask for a convenient time to contact that person again, should you have additional questions or need additional clarification.
Transcribe your notes from the interview as soon as possible. Don't let too much time pass before you type up and organize your notes; you want to do so while your overall impressions and the facts are fresh in your mind.