7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Expert Interview Experience

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Expert Interview Experience

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Expert Interview Experience
Photo by Ronaldo Lima, Jr.

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Expert Interview Experience

Interviewing an expert can be nerve wracking. Just the thought of it can make our stomachs twist into knots. If you struggle with getting through interviewing experts for your writing assignments, here are some tips that will help whether you are writing a research paper, an article, or a case study.

Be prepared.

Write out your list of questions ahead of time. If you prefer to type them on a computer, print out a copy. You never know when your trusty computer will quit on you or when your power will go out.

Write down important information.

I always write out the contact’s name, title, company name, and phone number along with the scheduled interview time on a sheet of paper. That way I am still ready for the call if, for whatever reason, I can’t access my computer or the Internet.

Also, write these things out the night before. There’s nothing like not being able to make a phone call because you failed to get the vital information written down on paper. Even if you use a smartphone, get a copy of the info on paper. Just in case. It never hurts to be prepared.

Ever notice how when you're in a rush, things start to go wrong? The printer decides to stop working at the last minute or your computer freezes. I speak from experience. Did I mention it never hurts to be prepared? 🙂

Do your research.

Learn as much as you can about the topic and your expert before your interview. Read the person’s biography on his company website or wherever you can find information. You’ll want to get a feel for what he does and what his background has been in.

This research might also reveal some things you two have in common. Maybe he spent a summer in New York City and you grew up there. These little things you have in common can make the expert interview more enjoyable for the both of you.

Ease your nerves.

When your stomach hurts from anxiety about the expert interview, it’s hard to be at your best. There are many ways to calm your nerves, but I have found that adding a drop of peppermint essential oil to a glass of water works well. It helps to calm my stomach and my nerves whenever I am in a stressful situation. I wish I had had peppermint oil when I first started conducting phone interviews! Start drinking it a few minutes before your call and you’ll feel better in no time.

Slow down.

People tend to talk fast when they’re nervous. This can make your interviewee nervous, too. Before your interview, calm your mind by inhaling or diffusing Peace & Calming essential oil. During the interview, focus on controlling the speed of your language and remember to take deep breaths and relax in your chair.

Avoid the caffeine.

Caffeine increases your heart rate and can make you sound jittery and nervous. If you are tired, inhale peppermint oil to awaken the senses. You can also rub a drop of oil above your upper lip under your nose. Sipping a glass of water (hot or cold) with peppermint can also help keep your throat from getting dry during the interview.

Record the interview.

Be sure to ask your interview subject if it is okay for you to record the interview. If he says “no”, honor his request. Otherwise, take advantage of the opportunity. This allows you to obtain accurate quotations to use in your writing work. And it allows you to focus more on the conversation rather than the note-taking.

There is a caveat to this one and I bet you guessed it: technology has been known to fail, so be sure to take some handwritten notes. This way, if the recording does not work, you don't have to redo the interview.

What has helped you get through an expert interview?

Jody Calkins
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