Interviewee Protocol

by Heather Vale 8 replies
I've just completed an interview project for Brad Callen, one of my clients, on article marketing. And interestingly enough, I ran into more stumbling blocks with these ones than I ever have (I've done a LOT of interviews).

Not only that, but the biggest challenges came from right here at the WF, with people that I sourced on a thread and contacted through PM, so I thought I'd post my thoughts on how to handle being asked for an interview.

After all, chances are many of you will be asked to do an interview at some point if you're good at what you do... so I want you to be prepared.

Here were the challenges:

1. Email "Interviews" Only

This one was more interesting than annoying, but two of the people I approached for an audio interview said they would only do it if it was an "email interview".

Of course, being an audio-based product, that wouldn't work.

I did appreciate the willingness to offer an alternative on their terms, but I just wanted to point out that an "inter-view" is, literally, an exchange of views. That can't be accomplished by sending a list of questions to someone, which is a "questionnaire", not an "interview". (Same thing with reading a list of questions over the phone).

An interview has to be a live exchange... and the only way to do that would be by sending one question, then getting the answer, then sending a follow-up question, and so forth.

And... well, of course, you can't really take an email script and make it into an audio.

So I'm sure it was just a polite way to say no, but I was intrigued that I got that answer twice.

2. Mind Changers

I had two people originally say yes, and then change their mind because they didn't want to reveal their strategies after all, or wanted to stay out of the spotlight.

Okay, everybody has the right to change their mind... but when it happens after the interviewer has already started researching you, it can be more than a little frustrating.

So please, don't say yes unless you're sure you want to do it!

3. No-Show

Alright, this one really gets to me. I don't recall ever having a no-show before that didn't come back with huge apologies, and either reschedule, or offer to do so.

One Warrior confirmed an interview, then didn't show up once. I contacted him through PM, and he was having technical difficulties. Okay, so I can deal with that... we went back and forth trying to pick a time that would work for both of us, and finally locked down a new time that he confirmed and said he was looking forward to.

On the second attempt to interview him, he just didn't show. I sent him numerous PMs and emails, right away and over the next several days, to see if something had happened, or if he had just changed his mind... I just wanted an answer.

But I got NOTHING! NO answer, no reply, no explanation. And that was 4 days ago.

Now, I'm sorry, but that's really unprofessional. Sure, he wasn't being paid to do the interview, but he was going to get promotion out of it.

All in all I spent several hours researching his tactics, reading his ebooks and his articles; and then I spent a total of 45 minutes between the two times I was waiting for him on the phone line.

Oh yeah, and more time to keep monitoring my WF PM in case he tried to contact me, and monitoring the phone system in case we figured the time change wrong and he dialed in at another time.

I think it's really disrespectful to completely disregard someone else's time that way, and I hope no one else reading this would ever do something like that.

If you are tempted... please remember this post, and think twice about it. A simple email with, "Hey, I'm really sorry, but I changed my mind" is better than a no-show, even though, as I said in #2, that can be frustrating too.

But nothing is more annoying than a no-show!

As for the people that I did interview, they were all fantastic and shared great information. So I'm happy with the outcome, even though it was a rocky road getting there.

Thanks for letting me share!
Heather
#main internet marketing discussion forum #behavior #interviewee #interviewees #interviews #professional #protocol
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  • Profile picture of the author Heather Vale
    Originally Posted by cosmokid View Post

    Hi Heather,

    Thanks for sharing these great points to ponder about interviews...both from the giving and the receiving end!

    However I have to disagree with you about email interviews not being so good.

    I've been both the "interviewee" and the "interviewer" doing the interview by email and there are many advantages to that format:

    1) Extremely time saving - if you're dealing with a busy "expert" type they might not have time to sit down for an audio interview, but they can take along your questions and respond thoughtfully when they do have time

    2) Clarity of responses can be great - You don't have any "um, ahs" going on and the person can really hit their main bullet points strongly, saving time and energy for the reader as well - the reader doesn't have to sift through a lot of extraneous stuff but can get right to the "meat"

    3) Easier to control and manage - from both ends. The interviewee doesn't have to worry about speaking in a completely impromptu and unrehearsed way - and believe me, many experts in their field are not necessarily public speakers or comfortable doing a lot of impromptu speaking. And the interviewer can just get right to the point.

    4) Flexibility of format depending on both person's needs - you can either do a pre-prepared "questionaire" style of interview where you just submit a specific list of questions to your subject, or if you are both game you can do a back and forth email exchange which DOES allow you to be interactive. Heck, you can even do a transcription of a live chat if you want which is pretty much the same as a transcribed regular interview.

    5) A written interview means you don't have to transcribe it - and many people even in this "high tech" age don't like to listen to audios (or watch videos for that matter.) If the interview is entirely written from step one, then you just create a nice pdf or post it in text format on your site, and voila! You're done. And people who prefer to read interviews instead of listening and taking notes will be pleased. (Admittedly, those who prefer to listen to audio might not be. So you have to know your audience and their preferences. I know I for one will never listen to an audio and am reluctant to sit and watch a video because my time is very valuable to me. However, I do enjoy written reports and am far more likely to read written interviews.)

    6) Speed of preparation - this goes along with not having to prepare a separate transcript, as mentioned above. But it's also a very fast way to interact with an expert to your mutual benefit. Shorter Q & A style interviews can easily be worked into your latest newsletter or into a blog entry and provide some juicy content for your site. By the same token, an expert who doesn't have a lot of time to give lengthy interviews can do a short Q & A and continue to grow their "brand" without trying to arrange an appointment time to speak on a land line or via live chat.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share my perspective and the perspective that my own interview subjects have expressed - that we love the short, written Q&A style interview....or even a lengthy one. I've interviewed lots of book authors who were perfectly happy to do things this way - in fact, neither one of us even thought to do it as a live conversation, because we could have much more forethought about what we were doing if it was in written form. And the Q&A style interviews I've done (as the interview subject) have been great - short, sweet, to the point, get my info out there to people, and I'm done! It can be very efficient and helpful to all parties, so don't underestimate the power of an interview done in this way.

    So, anyway - I just wanted to point out that there is more than one way to skin a cat - interview-wise!

    Jennifer
    Oh, yes... never said they weren't good, I did one product that way for some of the reasons you mentioned... it's just not an "interview" unless you do it one question at a time.

    I know everyone calls it an "interview" if someone sends a list of questions or reads a list of questions over the phone... but my aim is to make people realize that a list of questions delivered any way, any how, is NOT an interview, but a questionnaire.

    (I realize I'm probably the only one calling it that at this point, but it's a vitally important part of what I teach new interviewers).

    And obviously, for an audio-based product... they're not good!

    cheers
    Heather
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    Heather Vale Goss, "The Unwrapper"
    Top Online Interviewer-For-Hire (for Qualifying Clients)
    Conduct Profitable Content-Rich Interviews with Interviewing Unwrapped
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    • Profile picture of the author Heather Vale
      Originally Posted by cosmokid View Post


      And I dunno -I still think that a Q & A style list of questions can function as an interview. I'm thinking of the baby Q & A's popularized by print mags like Vanity Fair or Newsweek. I love those ! Surely, they're a micro version of a "true" interview - 'cause you're just blasting a bunch of questions at someone. The Vanity Fair interviews are a pre-set set of questions; with Newsweek it's an extremely short phone interview from what I understand - both producing a half page to a full page of text, very minimal content. But each has their own charm.
      Hey Jennifer,

      Yeah, you can call it a "Q&A"... same as what I'm calling a "questionnaire", I just find that "questionnaire" vs. "interview" makes a more solid distinction in people's minds.

      And for me, when I refer to Q&A, it's usually when I open the lines in a live teleseminar interview for the audience to ask their questions too. Or if you have one guest and a bunch of media people throwing out questions -- I've done those too -- then that's a Q&A (or a scrum, depending how organized it is).

      But yeah, Q&A's or questionnaires do provide some value and interest, but you really can't dig deeply into a topic like you can with a real interview.

      THAT comes only from listening, engaging, and following up.

      cheers
      Heather
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      Top Online Interviewer-For-Hire (for Qualifying Clients)
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Riddle
    No shows and cancellations are pretty much par for the course.

    It common in talk radio, Podcast interviews, interview products, tele classes etc.

    I've been doing these for about 20 years and you can generally count on about 30 percent not following through, no matter if its confirmed or scheduled.

    Including them being a JV partner of the interview product.

    IF they don't show, and its live, get out your Rolodex and find a compatible topic for your audience.

    That by the way is a good way to get last minute interviews on radio.

    After you have been interviewed by the program director, let them know you are available on short notice, and instantly via telephone.

    You may be surprised how often you will be called when the show is supposed to be on air, and the promoted guest didn't show up.

    Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author Heather Vale
      Originally Posted by netmalls View Post

      No shows and cancellations are pretty much par for the course.

      It common in talk radio, Podcast interviews, interview products, tele classes etc.

      I've been doing these for about 20 years and you can generally count on about 30 percent not following through, no matter if its confirmed or scheduled.

      Including them being a JV partner of the interview product.

      IF they don't show, and its live, get out your Rolodex and find a compatible topic for your audience.

      That by the way is a good way to get last minute interviews on radio.

      After you have been interviewed by the program director, let them know you are available on short notice, and instantly via telephone.

      You may be surprised how often you will be called when the show is supposed to be on air, and the promoted guest didn't show up.

      Mark
      Interesting... this is actually the first no-show I've ever had that I can think of though -- at least the only one that didn't contact me afterwards and explain and/or apologize.

      And I've done thousands of interviews over 15 years, so that's... umm... a lot less than 30%

      Cancellations and postponements happen more regularly, but still I'd say 5% or less for me. Probably much less... maybe 2 or 3% (I haven't been testing and tracking that, obviously!) LOL.

      But good advice on how to be featured more often for those who want to be!

      cheers
      Heather
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      Top Online Interviewer-For-Hire (for Qualifying Clients)
      Conduct Profitable Content-Rich Interviews with Interviewing Unwrapped
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Lockwood
    If one person is asking questions of another, I'd consider that an interview regardless of whether the questions were sent in as a batch.

    The point is getting the questions answered, not the technicalities of how they were asked.
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    • Profile picture of the author Heather Vale
      Originally Posted by Chris Lockwood View Post

      If one person is asking questions of another, I'd consider that an interview regardless of whether the questions were sent in as a batch.

      The point is getting the questions answered, not the technicalities of how they were asked.
      Yes, a lot of people would... like I said, I'm trying to change that perception!

      cheers
      Heather
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      Top Online Interviewer-For-Hire (for Qualifying Clients)
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