“The quality of our life is determined not by the answers we give but by the questions we ask.” – Andy Andrews
1. Make your guest feel safe.
Guests feel safe when they know that you’re professional, prepared, confident and friendly. Think of yourself as their lawyer and your job is to prepare them for cross examination. You’re friendly but ask hard questions because you’re actually on their side.
2. Focus on their work, not your ideas about their work
Commercials suck so don’t make one. The goal of a great interview isn’t a conversational sales pitch, it’s to offer the listener the best view of the guest and their work. Don’t highlight your opinions unless they point back to the guest’s content.
3. Be confrontational
Your guest deserves some easy pitches (questions). They’re taking time to spend with you so ask questions that allow them to speak to their strengths. Here’s the hard part. Follow some of those questions with confrontational ones. Challenge your guests. Never be confrontational to be a jerk. Be confrontational because you genuinely disagree or you want to give them a chance to offer further evidence of their point. Conflict is always more interesting to listen to than agreement. When conflict is happening people pay attention.
There are a lot of other tips to conducting great interviews but those three basic tips are a great place for you to start.