Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Learning How to Conduct an Interview – An Important Part of the Writer’s Tool Kit

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

One of the greatest tools writers have in their tool kits is the interview. You do not necessarily have to do an hour-long interview to receive great benefit to your articles. Quotes from individuals strengthen your points and let your readers know that even if you are not an expert on the subject you know people who are well-versed and you work hard to make the connection.

Here are several reasons the interview helps writers make their articles stronger.
  1. The opinion of someone else validates your subject and adds value to the material. Interviewing someone who is knowledgeable in your subject broadens the scope of your reach and helps more people personally identify with your subject.
  2. An expert brings extra meaning to your article and gives credibility to your subject. Even if your article is not an academic one, having a quote from an expert let’s the reader know that there is deeper knowledge to be had if they want to pursue it.
  3. Quotes show how your subject can be applied to daily life. If you are writing an article on building a house, yet you have never built a house, having a quote or a sidebar from a builder will bring the human element into your writing. Likewise, if you are writing on running marathons and have never run one, seek out a marathon runner who cannot only read your article and verify key elements, but he or she can also provide firsthand experience to illustrate your points.
  4. Often when you interview someone for a quote to go in an article, you find an aspect of the subject that you didn’t even think to include. So, talking to others helps you strengthen your outline and not leave out important parts.
  5. Those you include in your article will become enthusiastic marketers for your work.
Even if you only contact someone for a quote, remember your manners and be respectful of their time. Be sure to write a thank you note. Send them a copy of the published article and let them know where they can get copies or find it online. 

If there are parts of your conversation you aren’t able to use for this article, file it away to use another time for a different article. Never throw anything away because you never know when you may have an opportunity to use it!

A few tips for a good interview.
  • Do your homework before you go. Don’t ask your subject something you could have read in the newspaper!
  • Arrive with key questions you would like answered.
  • Record your conversation (with permission) so you can make sure your quotes are correct.
  • If you ask for an hour of time, stay true to that. Do NOT go over the amount of time you ask for.
  • Be sure to write a thank you note to your subject. Once the article is printed, send another short note with a copy of the article.

Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Her passion is helping others discover the joy of communicating with excellence. In the midst of all the busyness, Linda’s favorite activity is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material!


  1. Linda,

    Thank you for this article about interviewing others. Every writer needs to learn to develop this important skill--and practice is one of the best ways to learn and become a better interviewer. I've interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors for my magazine writing--but it also plays into my books. Doing interviews over and over is a critical part of the process.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

  2. Great stuff, Linda! I already saved it. Thanks so much.

  3. Thank you Linda for these clear directions; I appreciate your insight. :)

  4. Linda, your advice is always so good. And might I add, doing interviews introduces a person to a host of new contacts.

  5. Thank you Linda! I would love to learn more about the interview process- specifically choosing the right questions.

  6. Thank you all who commented. And, thank you, Lisa, for your suggestion to dig deeper in to the process, especially by choosing the right questions. Interviews are fun and give you so much material. If you have never done an interview, I hope you will try it to enhance, verify, and support your other writing.