I’ve never liked to rely on a formal list of questions for electronic interviews. When you have a big list of questions, you’re attention is always on the next question and when you can ask it.
The subject picks up on this quickly and the interview becomes a little flatter.
I usually form a list of a few questions and use them for reference. What is more effective –for me, at least– is to ask the first question and then engage in a conversation. Let it go in whatever direction it needs to. If the guest is passionate about his or her subject, it will be interesting.
As an interviewer you have to be interested and help maintain the conversation. Here’s an excerpt of a discussion with a guy who rescues handicapped canines.
“How did you begin collecting three-legged dogs?”
“Well, I saw this French poodle in the shelter and knew that no one else would want her. When she looked up at me we bonded. It was love. I brought her home.”
“And this became a passion?”
“There are a lot of three-legged dogs in the world. Within a couple years I acquired several.”
“Mm hmm. A German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, pit bull and a Daschsund.”
How do they adapt to three legs?
“The Daschsund has the hardest time because he’s so long and low to the ground. Sometimes he just rolls. The pit bull just looks at you like, ‘Come on! I might be missing a leg but I still got a good set of choppers!’
“What the greatest reward for you?”
“Knowing they have a good home and I guess, you know, being a two-legged pack leader of three-legged dogs. We all feel special.”
Just be interested and ask questions as they come to you. Chances are your audience would ask the same questions.
If I do have certain points I need to ask, I make sure the subject has completely finished with his or her answer. I take a moment and look at the question then look back at the subject and ask the question in my own voice. Never sound like you’re reading the question.
When you ask the question in your voice, looking at the subject, he or she will react in turn with an answer that’s honest and real and sounds it. It’s a conversation.
I never worry about pauses, flubs or stutters. Everything is cleaned up and edited. The saying “garbage in, garbage out” applies to interviews.
Be interested and engaged you’ll wind up with a good interview (conversation) nearly every time.