I have been having a lot of fun with the Heart of Business podcast so far. We’ve had the chance to talk to some incredible people. It’s also been nice to be able to fall back on my journalism education. I had to knock the rust off at first, but each episode has been better than the last. We’re always looking to improve, and I started to look at how I get ready for each episode. With that in mind, here are the Benchmark 5: Ways to Prepare For an Interview.

  • Research. This is really the most important by far. You need to do your homework. Gather whatever background information you can and come into an interview as prepared as you possibly can be. Don’t make them answer a question you could have gotten the answer to yourself in two seconds on Google.
  • Ask Around. Do you know anyone who is interested in your interview subject? Find out what they’d want to know. Maybe a friend has a perspective or curiosity that would have never crossed your mind.
  • Pre-Interview. You won’t always be afforded this opportunity. Sometimes it happens via email, or with a publicist. It’s a way to do a bunch of information gathering and an ability to formulate the storyline or theme of your interview.
  • Check out other interviews. Chances are, it probably isn’t the first time the person is being interviewed. They’ve probably been asked the same questions 1000 times. Once in a while, it’s unavoidable. More often than not, you should be able to find of a new angle or new questions to ask. Your interview subject will appreciate it and more than likely respond with better answers.
  • Wing it! This is terrible advice. Don’t wing it. Probably. It is important to prepare. In some cases, you won’t get the chance to do so. I was once covering a festival and asked by a publicist if I wanted to interview one of her bands. I said sure. The first question I asked was, “how would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you before?” and based the rest of the interview off of that. It’s not an ideal situation, but sometimes the best stuff comes from what you didn’t, or could’t, prepare.