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7 tips to create a great interview

We share some of our top tips to create great interviews

Storytelling is a craft with many layers and dimensions. At StrategyStory, we train people in digital storytelling so that they can collect great stories from across their businesses.

Stories and the link to strategy
For us, storytelling is a key method in the strategy development process because stories help us diagnose what is actually going on in a business. The views, stories and experiences of an organisation’s people are aired and shared and contribute to defining the challenges and opportunities any strategy – or strategies – will address.

Great interview, great story
A key aspect of this story gathering process is the interview,  because a great interview is much more likely to draw out a great story. Drawing from our experience in the media and journalism we help people develop their skills in this area. Below are some of our top tips for conducting great interviews, we’d love to hear yours too!

1. Prepare
For us the ‘pre-interview’ is so important to getting the real interview spot on. Speak to your interviewee before you do the interview. Explore the subject with them, find out what their line is – are they saying anything new and interesting that you’d like to explore in more depth? Crucially, help them feel comfortable – and ready – for when that microphone is eventually turned on.

2. Follow a line
What’s the overall focus of the piece of content you plan to create? It’s important to keep in mind your end goal when conducting an interview so that what you record is on point. This will help you guide both the interview and the interviewee, and avoid going down a rabbit warren of conversation that will just end up on the cutting room floor.

3. Be conversational
For us, making sure our contributors are comfortable with the interview experience is of the utmost importance. We treat our interviews as much like conversations as possible. We think this helps put people at ease in a situation where many people often feel some nerves. Talk to people naturally, offer them a cup of tea, make it as pleasurable an experience as possible.

4. Listen
It might sound silly – but it’s so important to listen to what your interviewee is saying during the interview. There is often a lot going on for the interviewer – checking the kit is recording, thinking about what you want to ask next – it can be easy to get distracted from the conversation.

5. Ask relevant, open questions
OK, so spot the difference:

Closed question:
“Did you have a good day?”
Answer: “ Yes thanks.”

Open question:
“What did you do today?”
Answer: “Well, I started the morning by swimming with dolphins, had lunch at the top of a Munro and won the lottery in the afternoon.”

Asking good, open questions will really help you explore your interviewee’s story in more depth. Examples of some open questions we like to use include:

Tell me about…?
Talk to me about…?
What help is needed?
What impact did that have?
How would you describe your role?

6. Plan out starter questions in advance
Before the interview, have a think about the best open questions you’d like to ask to get the interview started and to cover all the bases you need. If it helps use this little interview formula:

5W + 1H = Story covered

Or jot down some questions to get the ideas flowing:

7. Anything else?
At the end of the interview, ask the interviewee if there is anything else they’d like to mention that perhaps you have missed. They are the expert in their own story after all…

Finally, good luck! We hope you found this helpful.

If you’re interested to hear more about why creating a storytelling culture matters, have a listen to StrategyStory’s Kate Hooper, who explains how we use story in our bespoke programme for businesses going through the transformation process:

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Liked this? You might enjoy our Turn your business into a brilliant story page


StrategyStory supports businesses to develop strategies that work. This means strategy as collective action rather than a dusty document. We deliver through partnership programmes, online learning, workshops, seminars and public speaking. We deliver lectures, talks and sessions on strategy and storytelling at private and public events.

If you’d like to arrange a conversation, please contact us at hello@strategystory.co.uk

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