Getting Interviews As a Writer: What I Learned From My Ex Job as a Journalist

People are busy, and their time is valuable. Getting a slice of it requires persistence — and some flexibility.

Photo Credit: Photo by Greta Hoffman from Pexels

I started my career as a journalist, following in the footsteps of my parents (both journos). If I’m honest, I didn’t love it.

Yes, I liked conceptualizing stories. I loved researching and getting facts. I also appreciated that a lot of journalism requires stepping away from your desk to attend events and talk to people. I even enjoyed the editorial process, something many journalists find dull.

But I hated chasing people for interviews. I felt like an unwanted pest, buzzing around an unwilling interview subject like a mosquito until they’d agree to talk to me. I’m sure that’s how they viewed me. But it was part of the job, so I stuck with it. And I’m glad I did.

Now, some 15 years later, I’m no longer a traditional journalist. Do I still interview people and see my words in print? Yes. But the style of work is very different, as I’ve transitioned primarily to copywriting and ghostwriting. The people I interview are ready and willing to talk to me. Often, they’re the ones paying me to share their story — in which case they’re even more eager to sit down and have a chat.

That said, perseverance is still necessary. Everyone is busy, and their time is precious. Locking down an interview often requires multiple emails, phone calls, and schedule changes. Thanks to my journalism training, I understand the value of remaining persistent. Without the interview, I won’t get the story. Without the story, there’s nothing to write.

Over the years, I’ve found the most success securing interviews quickly with these three tips:

And, of course, persistence is key. I often have to chase my interview subjects before I get a chance to talk to them, sending multiple emails and making a phone call or two. Do I still feel like a pest sometimes? Yes. But it’s usually worth it when I get the story I need — and when my interviewee sees that their words were handled with care and contributed to a compelling narrative.

Plus, I get to talk to people from all walks of life. In the last week alone, I’ve spoken to an event venue owner in Georgia and a brewery founder in New York. The week before that, I spoke to a senior care business owner and an IT human resources consultant. That kind of diversity is what keeps my job fresh and interesting — and why I keep doing it.

Thank you for reading! This is a space where I share personal thoughts — an opportunity for self-expression that has nothing to do with my professional writing. None of the thoughts or opinions expressed in this blog should be construed as anything but my own, nor should they be affiliated with any company or person I contract with or write for.

NOW that that’s done… I’d love to hear from you about this blog post in the comments! You can also connect via my blog: https://www.ask-communications.com/blog

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Alison Kilian

I’m Alison & I tell stories! ​I’ve been writing professionally for 10+ years, crafting everything from CEO blogs to bestselling romcoms. I ❤ a good story!