How to conduct your interview

Face-to-face communication is preferable

It’s worth the effort and time to conduct the interview face-to-face. The responses you get will be more natural, personal and often more truthful and engaging. After all, it’s just having a chat with someone.

And yet, when people are asked for an interview they can become wary. They may suggest that it’s quicker to conduct this communication by email. If it’s possible though, do it face-to-face.

Phone interviews if face-to-face isn’t possible

A phone (or skype) interview is a second option if you can’t meet the person face-to-face. It’s not as natural as in person, but better than by email.

• Tip: It helps some people to see the questions in advance so they have time to think about their answers.

Email is a good back-up if the interviewee is in a different time-zone

In some cases, it may be necessary for you to conduct an interview this way. Your interviewee may be really unwilling to meet face to face. They may be based overseas. You can send them a list of questions and ask for a response. Give them a date to reply by, or it can get lost in a sea of emails.

Note taking and recording the interview

If you’re not trained in shorthand, it can be tricky to take all the notes you need and keep your attention on the flow of the interview. If possible use a recording device, such as a dictaphone. You can use a transcription service to transcribe the interview into a text file for you. It is quick and reasonably cheap to do. 

Note: Always let the interviewee know you’re doing this, and what you plan to do with the recording. If you are recording it purely for notes, then let the person know it’s only for that. If you plan to use clips or any part of the recording, let them know this is your intention so they can agree to that. 

Once you’re confident that you’ve got what you need, remember to collect the dictaphone, and get the interviewee to sign a media consent form to say that they’re happy for the University to use their information for marketing purposes. Thank them for their time. Offer to show them the finished article.