When I was on-air, I took great pride in my interviewing skills. I wanted to be different and better than everyone else. At one point, I decided I could do that by making my interviews sound less like Q&A and more like conversations.
Interviews are NOT conversations. By definition, interviews are Q&A. They are input/output. You input questions and your guest outputs answers.
If you hold conversations, it gives your guest too much leeway to go whatever direction they want. Usually, it won’t be the direction YOU want. Your guest will often steer clear of subjects that make them uncomfortable.
Another reason that conversations don’t work is because they often involve you making comments instead of asking questions. Guests often won’t reply to comments, which brings the entire interview/conversation to an awkward, grinding halt.
If you want to distinguish yourself as an interviewer, do these four things:
- Be well-prepared
- Have a plan — know what you want from the interview
- Ask open-ended questions
- Be a good listener and ask follow-ups
It’s funny – I wanted to have conversations because I wanted to distinguish myself. However, it was only after I realized the error in that that I was able to set myself apart.