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Behind every great magazine are great stories — namely, the interviews and features that grab the attention of readers around the world. Today, we’re breaking down how to conduct the perfect magazine interview in six simple steps so you can take your interview game to the next level.
Do Your Research
Before conducting interviews, it’s important to thoroughly research your interviewees and make an effort to understand their backgrounds, histories and other important information about their lives, hobbies and careers. Study the basics and try to avoid asking questions that have already been answered in other interviews or online. Keep track of these important notes, facts and interesting tidbits to use as talking points throughout your interview.
Have a Conversation — Not an Interrogation
An interview can be an intimidating space for your interviewee, so it’s important to make the subject feel as comfortable as possible during the interview process. Start by giving an overview of the topics that you want to cover, then briefly walk your interviewee through what they can expect in order to avoid any surprises. Let the conversation flow naturally, starting with a guiding question and allowing the interviewee to speak freely on the subject. Don’t pay too much attention to asking questions one after another or sticking to a strict order of questions — you may be surprised by the new information you learn when you allow your subject to speak their mind openly and freely.
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Ask What You Don’t Already Know
As important as it is to cover the basics, a good interview will explore deeper under the surface in order to uncover a more interesting story. Rather than asking surface-level or factual questions, ask your questions that are thoughtful and might not have one correct answer. Unexpected angles and interesting questions are a refreshing approach to a typical interview, and your readers will thank you for it.
Respect Their Boundaries
There’s a fine line between interviewing and invading one’s privacy. A good interview should always respect the boundaries and comfort level of the interviewee. Pay attention to the tone of the interview and make sure that the questions you ask show respect for their comfort and privacy. A good feature does not need to sacrifice your interviewee’s privacy in order to be interesting or edgy.
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Stay True to Your Brand
Staying true to your brand is key for creating a great feature, and the content of the interview should additionally highlight the magazine’s core values or overarching message. If the magazine has a theme, try to ask one or two questions specifically related to the theme of the issue, or address a subject that may be relevant to the specialization of the magazine itself. Pay close attention to the ideas expressed within the interview that also reflect the publication’s brand or values.
Create a Story to Remember
Whether you’re creating a playful Q&A or looking to adapt an interview into a thoughtful think-piece, remember to have fun during the interview and enjoy the process of creating a feature. Highlight unexpected moments, interesting facts and memorable answers, and remember that a great story can speak for itself.