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

Photo Credit: Photo by Greta Hoffman from Pexels
  1. Make it a phoner. I understand that there are many great modern video conferencing tools, from Zoom to Google Meetings. However, I prefer to do interviews on the phone. I get the material I need, and potentially shy interview subjects are generally more comfortable when they’re “invisible.” Plus, it’s more flexible. I’ve talked to a CEO who was in a car en route to the airport, for example, and a contractor who was literally on a building site. In these unconventional circumstances, people often prefer a phone — no stress about creating a “pretty” background. Since I’m located in Europe and often call people in the US, I use Skype Credit for cheap long-distance calls.
  2. Be specific about the time. As soon as I contact someone about an interview, I clarify a timeframe for the interview. Usually I can get what I need in 30 minutes. Some interviews don’t take more than 15. Of course, for longer profile pieces — or book-length ghostwriting projects — more time is needed. But for the most part, 20 to 30 minutes is enough. Assuring people up front that I won’t need much of their time usually expedites the process.
  3. Maintain flexibility. When I’m trying to get an interview, I do my best to work around the interviewee’s timeframe. I want to make it as easy as possible for them to say “yes” to an interview, which means adapting to their schedule. This means I may have calls late at night due to time differences, for example. I have also done interviews on the weekends on occasion. It’s not ideal, but sometimes that’s what it takes to get the story I need.

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Alison Kilian

Alison Kilian

Hi there! I’m Alison and I tell stories. ​I’ve been writing professionally for over a decade, crafting everything from blogs to Amazon Top 100s. I ❤ a good tale