Interviewing skills for case studies, blogs and podcasts
Do you ever need to interview people for case studies, blogs or podcasts? If you’d like to brush up your interviewing skills, please get in touch to hear more about my one-to-one coaching or group training sessions.
The skill behind a great interview
When you listen to a skilled interviewer at work, it’s fascinating. Watch Emily Maitlis, sure-footed as a stalking jaguar, interviewing Prince Andrew about Jeffrey Epstein. Listen to Jane Garvey, teasing out extraordinary stories on the Life Changing radio series.
Interviewing people is a wonderful skill to have – and one that’s increasingly useful at work, particularly if you want to gather information for case studies, blogs or podcasts.
Interviewing people for case studies
Companies often use case studies as evidence of their success and way of working. For that reason, they might appear on a company’s web site or feature in an award entry.
When you’re interviewing someone in order to write up a case study, you want to elicit quotes that will bring the story to life. The kind of real-life language that acts as a counterbalance to the dates and statistics that anchor the case study.
In this scenario, you’re likely to be talking to someone senior within the organisation and to have just one shot at gathering your information. This means that preparation is more important than ever, so you can use your allocated time wisely.
Interviews for corporate blogs
Corporate blogs tend to be less formal than case studies, so you’ll probably have more latitude in your language when it comes to writing up the text.
Whereas a case study usually has a pretty rigid structure, blogs come in all shapes and sizes. Your interview style will change according to the style of the blog. Are you telling a first-person story, writing a newspaper-style feature that mixes quotations and commentary, producing a listicle, or writing a Q&A feature?
Once you’ve decided on the format of your blog, keep that in mind while you’re planning every stage of your interview.
Interviewing people for podcasts
People love podcasts. They’re the perfect way to entertain, amuse, inform, distract or calm yourself whenever your ears are free during the day.
Organisations are increasingly cottoning on to the power of the podcast, using it to connect and engage with their key audiences. Ideally, your podcast will have a light-touch edit, enough to remove any glitches, but leaving the freshness of the encounter intact.
A podcast should have the feel of a conversation, but with the interviewer leading and shaping the discussion, drawing out the best from the interviewee. Crucially, the interviewer must put themselves in the listener’s shoes and ask the questions that the listener would want to ask.
My coaching / workshops on interviewing skills
I offer both one-to-one interview skills coaching and group workshops that are ideal for content teams.
Here’s the process:
-We have a chat about your goals, your audiences and what you want to get out of the coaching or workshop.
-You send me examples of the case studies, blogs or podcasts that you’re currently producing.
-I develop an outline for coaching sessions / a workshop where participants investigate what works and what doesn’t, learn new ways of doing things, and practise what we’ve just discussed.
My coaching sessions and workshops are always precisely tailored to your needs. I use examples of case studies, blogs and podcasts from your organisation and your sector. With permission, I use examples of participants’ work, and make practical suggestions for improvements. I aim to meet every participant where they are, and equip them with the skills to take them up a level. I do this in a way that makes people feel supported and inspired.
What to expect from your interview coaching or workshop
The content of the one-to-one sessions or workshop will vary depending on your goals. Typically, though, we will cover:
-Encouraging people to take part.
-Establishing your credentials.
-Acting in a professional way.
-Doing your research.
-Making your interviewee feel at ease.
-Asking enough questions, but not too many.
-Asking difficult questions, when necessary.
-Knowing when to go off piste.
-Knowing when to ask cheeky questions.
-Getting an interview back on track.
I will share:
– 3 ways to turn off a potential interviewee.
– The 5 best questions to encourage an interviewee to open up.
– The 7 most common mistakes made by novice interviewers.
We will carry out interview practice in pairs and participants will receive constructive feedback on the spot.
What you’ll get from the workshop
My interview coaching sessions and workshops are designed to:
-Equip you with time-saving tools and techniques to help you carry out interviews for case studies, blogs and podcasts.
-Give you more confidence in your ability to establish a rapport with interviewees, take control of the process and elicit great quotes that tell a compelling story.
-Help you see the bigger picture, from appreciating your interviewee’s point of view to understanding how the resulting case study, blog or podcast supports your organisation’s brand, messages and goals.
My background as a writer and interviewer
Interviewing people has always been one of my favourite things to do. I love being given permission to be curious about other people’s lives and work.
I started my career as a journalist, writing features for national newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Times and Esquire. I interviewed a man who climbed buildings at night, wearing cowboy boots, as a hobby. I interviewed a naturist vicar who told me he sunbathed naked, but was lucky enough to have high hedges around the vicarage garden. And I interviewed an unfortunate person in HR who opened a job application to find a box containing a live locust. (The applicant didn’t get the job. They were reported to the RSPCA.)
As a copywriter, I’ve continued to use my interviewing skills in every job I do, whether that’s writing supporter appeals for the Environmental Investigation Agency, blogs on mental health and wellbeing for Kooth or blogs about dogs for Lintbells.
Find out more
If you’re interested in honing your interview skills or those of your team, do get in touch with me to find out more.
You can also discover more about my writing training workshops.
What people say about my workshops on interviewing skills
"I now feel much more confident about preparing and conducting interviews."
"I really enjoyed the chance to actually practise interviewing each other, as this allowed me to put the skills we had learned to use, rather than just learning theory."
"I enjoyed the interactive nature of the workshop and the chance for discussion. Also how relevant the training is to my role and the role of the content team."