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10 Tips on How to Be Interviewed

Yesterday I wrote a series of tips on how to ask for an interview for your blog. Today I want to focus on how to handle being interviewed as a blogger.

Over the past few years I’ve been interviewed in numerous ways as a result of my blog including on TV, for newspapers, for other blogs, for private newsletter groups and for books and other e-resources. Most of the following tips will cross most of these types of interviews but I’m mainly focussing here on tips for being interviewed by another blogger for their blog.

1. Decide Upon an Objective

One of the biggest lessons I learned from my one TV interview was that unless you go into an interview (of any kind) with some sort of objective to achieve – it’s very easy to come out of them with little or no benefit.

The person doing the interview will have their own set of reasons for wanting to interview you (perhaps its just to get free content, perhaps they want to ride on your coattails or perhaps they are hoping you’ll link to them – but it’s worth considering what your own hopes are for the interview also.

Ask yourself some of the following questions before you tackle the interviewers ones.

  • What will your main message be?
  • What action do you want people to take as a result of reading your interview?
  • What parts of your blog do you want to drive them to?

Once you’ve determined these things you’ll be much better prepared to answer the interview question in a way that not only meets the objectives of the interviewer but that also meets some of your own.

2. Research Your Audience


I mentioned in yesterday’s post that an interviewer should research their interviewee – but I think as an interviewee that it’s well worth doing a little research also.

Spend a little time looking at the blog or site where your interview will be published.

  • What is it’s topic?
  • What style is it written in?
  • What do readers seem to respond well to?
  • What questions do they have?
  • What connecting points might there between them and what you can offer?

3. Find New Angles

One of the traps of being interviewed regularly is that you can end up saying the same things over and over again to different people.

While the blogosphere is a big place you’ll find that the same people will see your different interviews and that they will quickly become bored if you use the same answers in each case.

The challenge is to find new ways of answering old questions (and believe me you’ll get asked the same questions over and over again).

4. Suggest a Question

If the interviewer hasn’t asked you a question that you’d like an opportunity to answer (flowing out of your objectives for the interview) I’ve found that they are often quite open to you suggesting questions to them. In fact I’ve found quite a few interviewers actually ask you if you want to be asked anything. While that might sound lazy of them (and it probably is) it’s an opportunity that you should seize upon.

5. Avoid Hype, Jargon, In Jokes and Arrogance

While it can give your ego a bit of a boost to be asked to do an interview, don’t get carried away.

There’s nothing that will turn off someone faster than hype, jargon, in jokes or arrogance (in humble my opinion). The only exception I can think to this tip is if you and your blog are filled with hype, jargon, in jokes and arrogance – at least then you’re being consistent.

6. Make it Personal

The alternative to the above negative things is to inject a personal touch into your interview. Be yourself, be relaxed and attempt to weave your story (and stories of others) into your interview.

I find that people respond very well to other people sharing personal experiences and you’re much more likely to reach your objectives if you take this approach.

This doesn’t mean you need to give up a position of expertise – but it means you give yourself a human face as well. In fact – speaking of human faces – I find sending a photo along to be featured with the interview can also help with this.

7. Promote Yourself

Don’t be shy or afraid of a little self promotion in your interview. I generally will reference posts that I’ve written on subjects that I’m asked about (often as suggested further reading). This way people are not only given a link to your main page but are driven deep into your blog as a result of your interview (a very powerful way of making your blog sticky).

Weave into your interview ways for readers or listeners to connect with you and/or your blog. Don’t completely rely upon your interviewer to do this for you as there are times (especially in live interviews) where they won’t give you the plug you’re hoping for.

Don’t go over the top with the self promotion – but definitely don’t avoid it.

8. Don’t Overwhelm the Reader

One of the fine lines that I know I struggle with when it comes to interviews is determining how much to give as an answer to a question.

I like to be comprehensive and feel like I’m short changing both the interviewer and the reader if I don’t give decent answers – but I know if I go on as long as I could that I’ll either overwhelm the reader (or bore them) or I’ll answer questions so comprehensively that they don’t need to come over and look at my blog.

The happy medium to aim for is that point where readers gain something useful from the interview but are left thirsting for more.

9. Live Interviews – Prepare

IF the interview is a live one (either to be recorded as a podcast, on radio, over the phone, via instant messaging, in person etc) then you should spend some time preparing (whether the interview is big or small). The danger in not being prepared is that in a live interview your weaknesses, lack of knowledge, nervousness or inconsistencies can (and will) be exposed.

If possible ask to see the questions before hand or at least be clear on what the scope of the interview is. Practice your answers, make a few notes if appropriate and consider what other questions you might be asked. If there is an area of what you do that is tricky to explain consider ahead of time how you’ll do it in everyday non technical language.

Remember in live interviews (especially ones being recorded in some format that will be played in public) that presentation is important. If you’ll be seen dress appropriately, if you’ll be heard speak clearly and most of all – remember to breath (it does wonders).

10. Followup

Make sure you keep the contact details of the person who interviews you. Where possible keep in touch with them at least semi-regularly.

If you do the chances are that if they interview you once that they’ll call on you again next time they want a quote or interview on a related topic.

Other Suggestions

By no means am I an expert in conducting interviews or being interviewed so I’d like to open up the microphone and do a little interview of you as readers…. What would you add? Feel free to add your tips on being interviewed below or on getting others to agree to interviews or conducting interviews on the previous post.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Fernanda says:

    I like your blog. Encounter always very interesting post, are brilliant!

  2. StephenZhai says:

    me too

  3. George says:

    I would add under number 9 to try to find a friend to give you a mock interview, and have them not only ask you questions that you know will be asked but also let them ask random questions that they come up with and/or common interview questions like “Tell our audience a little about yourself”, etc.

  4. I do a lot of interviews, as a journalist and writer, and I think this is a super list. Readers might be interested in a couple of posts on interviews: How to give good interview and Why interviews go wrong. Cheers, Matthew

  5. I would add under number 9 to try to find a friend to give you a mock interview, and have them not only ask you questions that you know will be asked but also let them ask random questions that they come up with and/or common interview questions like “Tell our audience a little about yourself”, etc.

  6. Mike Nichols says:

    I’ve given live interviews, and I’ve found that preparation is the key to a successful outcome. It’s easy to become flummoxed and just wander around and appear foolish. Having a list (yes, a real list of written points) is invaluable.

    In written interviews, I try to make the answers as conversational as possible. The reader will imagine you speaking, and your normal writing style may not be the same as your speaking style.

    Great list, Darren!

  7. Kathryn Hall says:

    Great list! I tell my clients to be prepared with three points they want to get across in an interview, regardless. In other words, don’t be afraid to skillfully get in your message. This might sometimes even entail saying, “Gee, that is an interesting question, but what I’ve found is even more important is….” Also, I have always coached my clients, “Don’t practice on the public!” Know your materials inside out. Hire a media coach if need be so you are polished by the time the public actually hears you. And if it’s a tv interview be certain to notice the culture and wear appropriate, attractive attire.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Professional Blogging Aug 10 at 5:23 am by Matt -Darren Rowse, the master of all things about Professional Blogging, has been running a great mini-series on Problogger focused around how to get and conduct interviews for your blog and how to be interviewed. Darren, as always, has a ton of great tips and advice from his personal experiences. [...]