By Lynn Corbitt, Account Executive
Whether you’re writing web copy, a blog, a press release or some other type of content, chances are high that you, personally, won’t have all the knowledge needed for the piece. Maybe you’re writing a press release for a client, like I’ve done plenty of times here at Rasor. Maybe you’re getting ready to draft your company’s “About Us” page, and you need some information from the founder of the brand.
No matter what the situation is, you’ll need to pull together some interview questions, which can feel like a major task. After all, there are so many things you could ask about, and you might be asking questions that you don’t even understand. Crafting your interview questions doesn’t have to be a struggle, and these questions should help you get started.
- Tell me about yourself/the company/the product/the event.
Okay, okay, I guess it’s not technically a question, but I’m still going to count it. The goal here is to get the majority of the details straight from the source. How you end the question will depend on what the topic of your interview is. If you’re going to be writing a chef profile, ask them about themselves. If you’re writing a new product page for your website, ask specifically about the product. This question is key to ask at the beginning, because you might get answers to some of your later questions right off the bat (or the answer might spark additional questions you want to ask).
- What makes this (person/company/product/event) different from others that are similar to it?
Differentiation is key, so ask your source about what makes the topic of your content unique. You might find out it’s the first of its kind in your city. Or maybe they’re using technology in a way that no similar companies have done. You never know what kind of gems you’ll find when you ask this question.
- You’re the expert on this topic, what else should the readers know about your story/position/company/product/event?
This question is pure gold. I was recently interviewing someone who was hired as a general manager for one of our clients. I’ve never been a general manager before, and I’ve never worked in that particular industry. My team and I put together a list of great questions, but we knew we’d probably be missing some key pieces of the story. When I asked this question, he re-framed a few things he had said earlier to show how important they were. I may have glossed over them in my notes otherwise.
There you have it: three questions that should be included in every set of interview questions. As a bonus tip, don’t be afraid to ask a question you wrote even if you think your interviewee has already answered it. You might get to hear a different story or example, or maybe they’ll just expand on what they previously said. I typically like to preface the question with, “I know you already told me a little about this, but I want to ask this question anyway to make sure I capture all of your thoughts about it.” This shows your interviewee that you are listening to them as they speak, and you’re not just reading off questions without thinking. Now you should be ready to interview anyone, whether they’re a new hire, the founder of the company or a subject matter expert in an industry that’s completely new to you.