As both a journalism and film & TV major, I have experience with interviewing sources for an article—whether it be hard news or a feature. So, I’m here to give you some tips and tricks for your next big interview!
- Prepare your questions!
If there’s one thing you absolutely have to do before an interview, it’s this. Prepare questions! No matter who you’re talking to, it’s so important to have an outline to follow while you talk to them. Whether you’re interviewing the CEO of a company or a reality TV star, make sure you have questions prepared that relate to the subject of your interview. For example, last semester I interviewed the PR Manager at the Greater Boston Food Bank, so I had a list of questions prepared about how COVID-19 has affected GBFB’s business and outreach. Also, it’s always a good idea to prepare any possible follow-up questions that you would anticipate asking in response to their answers!
- Dress to impress!
If you want to be professional, you have to appear professional. In other words, don’t wear a sweatshirt and your hair up in a messy bun. Especially on Zoom, make sure you take the time to look nice – wear a blazer, a sweater, or a blouse. Straighten or curl your hair, or put it up in a sleek ponytail. For me, I like to wear something I feel extra confident in, so I always pick out my favorite sweater and my favorite earrings to go with it. If you feel confident, you will definitely seem confident to whoever you’re interviewing.
- Practice, practice, practice!
As they say, practice makes perfect. You should not go into an interview completely unprepared. So once you have your list of questions, be sure to practice greeting them and starting off with your questions. Maybe try to do some research on your subject and greet them by saying something that they would be interested in. For example, if your subject loves running, you can greet them and ask how their morning was, and maybe that would prompt them to talk about running (which is something they love, and who doesn’t like talking about something they love?). Also, remember to ask your subject if you can record before you start asking questions! The bottom line for this one is: practice!
- Be early!
Always, always, always be early! On-time is fine, but you will seem more professional if you appear 10 or 15 minutes in advance. In normal circumstances, you would arrive at the location of your interview early, but nowadays over Zoom, it is important to enter the Zoom meeting at least 10 minutes early. You never know what kind of schedule your subject has, so if they need to start the interview a few minutes early or late, you should be in the Zoom meeting at all times. Be flexible – the interview is about them. Also, be sure to send your subject the Zoom invite a week or a few days in advance of the day of the interview! You must run the Zoom meeting because you are the one who is conducting the interview. Be professional and reliable!
- Stay calm, you will do great!
The most important thing to remember is to stay calm! If you’re nervous, your subject will be able to tell and it will only make you more nervous. So just relax and be confident in what you know! If you have prepared, practiced, and arrived early, then you’re already doing amazing. Also, if you are a journalism major at any school, you already know what you’re doing. Communications programs prepare students well for real-life experience, so you will do an awesome job no matter what. I know that at Boston University, our journalism professors all have real-world experience, and they are some of the best professors a university could find. Because of that, I always feel very calm going into interviews. So, trust in what you know!