Great marketing content requires input from special subject matter experts. Whether you're sitting down with someone inside of your company, a thought leader in your industry or an agency client, running a productive copy interview can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to producing great content.
While some experts are just naturally more well-suited to being interviewed, there is a lot an interviewer can do to make the most productive use of everyone’s time. Below are some tips on how to conduct an outstanding copy interview.
Prep your subject.
Most people don’t do their best when they’re asked to respond to a question on the spot, so solve that issue upfront by sending your copy interview questions to your experts in advance. Let your experts decide how they want to use that information. Some experts like to fill in the questions and send answers back to the interviewer beforehand, some like to jot notes down to bring with them, and some may just appreciate the heads up.
It is up to you, the interviewer, to establish the tone and energy level of your copy interview. Keep things friendly and light. Be sure to thank your subject matter expert for his or her time. Explain how the copy interview process works and recap why you’re sitting down together that day.
Interview subjects almost always perform better when they’ve had a little warm up, so start off the interview with some baseline questions to get them feeling comfortable. “Can you tell me in a couple of sentences about your role?” is always a good opener.
Ask good questions.
Asking experts thoughtful, open-ended questions - ones that require more than a yes or no answer - helps ensure that the interview is both efficient and productive. Develop questions designed to elicit helpful information for your company’s target audience. Don’t be afraid to explore interesting avenues that naturally arise in your conversation, and be sure to probe for examples to help your writer illustrate concepts in your content.
As you work through your interview questions, listen actively. Don't hesitate to ask for clarification or ask follow-up questions as needed. Throughout the interview, summarize key points in your own words to confirm your understanding. Your subject matter expert will appreciate it.
Everyone interviews differently, so don’t assume that experts will provide information if they’re not explicitly asked. At the end of each topic, be sure to ask your expert if there’s anything else they’d like to add on the subject. Sometimes, they are waiting to be prompted.
It’s impossible to take in everything instantly during an interview, so it’s always a good idea to record copy interviews, if possible. Be sure to ask your subject matter expert for his or her permission first.
To run a great interview, you need to keep track of and manage time throughout the meeting. Be sure to allot enough time to cover every topic, and remind your expert when you are closing in on the allotted window for each topic.
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