3 Common Interview Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them

Bloggers love interviews: Interviews are quick to write, easy to promote, and provide a nice way to escape blogger’s block.

There is just one problem: People don’t read interviews.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. In this article I will share three common mistakes that make your readers skip interviews and browse to the next blog.

When you recognize the mistakes and follow these simple tips, blog posts will soon be some of your most popular content.

Mistake #1: Putting the wrong person in the center of attention

First of all, people come to your blog to get something for themselves: advice, inspiration, ideas, or maybe a good laugh after a stressful day at work.

Second, the reason why they come to your blog (and not to Joe’s from next door) is that they like you and want to hear what you have on your mind.

And only third, they might be willing to hear about someone else.It’s not about you. It’s not about the person you interview. It’s all about the reader.

1. Interview people who matter to your readers:

Joe from next door might be an interesting person, but unless he has something useful to say to your readers, pick someone else. Make sure the person you choose has a story worth telling, and better yet, a story related to your niche.

Also, it never hurts if your readers can recognize the name of your interviewee.

2. Ask questions that your readers would ask:

It’s easy to go wrong and to try to please the person interviewed too much, trying to guess what he would like to be asked rather than what your readers would want you to ask. There is no better recipe for a boring interview.

If you don’t want that, try something different. Do your homework, dig deeper, and come up with edgy but friendly questions that reveal something that no one knew about the interviewee before.

3. Edit. Edit. And edit still some more:

You don’t have to publish everything the interviewee says. Cut, paste, and reorganize if needed to make sure the story comes out loud and clear. If the interviewee makes grammar or spelling mistakes, correct them.

Rephrase his words to make them easier to understand. Just make sure you don’t put words in his mind and keep the message intact. If you are unsure about the end result, ask the interviewee for feedback.

4. Comment:

Your readers come to your blog because of you. They have chosen you because of your expertise, because they like your ideas, or maybe even because they think you are a nice person.

No matter what the reason, they expect you to speak up – so don’t stay silent. Bring your comments to the interview and make it a discussion between you and the person interviewed.

5. Ask your readers to contribute:

Once you have involved yourself in the discussion, the next logical step is to bring in your readers. Ask them to comment on the interview, or answer your questions at their own blogs. Or what if you go as far as to just interviewing your readers in the first place?

Mistake #2: Making the interview look like an interview

It’s one thing to make your interview useful. But it’s just as important (if not even more) to make it look useful.

If all your readers see is just another interview, they won’t read the article long enough to see that you have gone through the trouble of finding an insanely useful topic, picking a great interviewee, and actually asking the right questions.They will just skip it and never look back.

1. The headline:

Make sure your headline tells what the interview is about and why the reader can’t afford to miss it. Not just the name of the person interviewed.

If the interviewee is well known, you can use her name to make the story sell better, but even then, give a hint about the content of the article: “Jennifer Lopez: Men Are Scared Of Me”.

If there is a risk that no one will know her, drop the name and dig deeper in the content. For example: “What To Do When Men Don’t Dare To Look Your Way”

2. Formatting:

If you really want to make your interview look useful, leave the familiar questions and answers formatting behind and go creative: Use the information you got from your interviewee and formulate it into a list of ten most important tips.

Tell the person’s story and share the things you learned from him in your own words. Write a list of quotes. Just don’t do questions and answers.

3. Highlights:

Pick the best quotes from your interview and highlight them to catch the eye of your reader. When you have caught that much, the likelihood of him continuing all the way to read the rest of the post increases already a lot.

4. Images:

Interesting images related to the story you are telling through your interview have the same effect as highlights. Multiplied by hundreds.

Mistake #3: Forgetting the call for action

What do you want to achieve through the post? Do you want to create discussion? Get comments? Teach your reader a new skill or way of thinking?

No matter what your goal is, make sure you have one and let your readers know it by calling them to action. In most cases you just want to get them to talk:

1. Ask a question:

Spare one of your interview questions and target it to your readers. Or even better, ask your interviewee to come up with a question he wants to ask from the audience. This way the communication will go two ways: instead of just you and your interviewee talking to the readers, they can also talk back.

2. Let your readers ask questions:

Ask the person you interviewed to stick around for a while to answer questions from the audience. Make sure you mention this clearly in the post, and watch your community come up with their own questions that are even more interesting than the ones you asked in the first place.

3. Take a stand:

Take the side of your interviewee or the one against him to create some conflict. This feeling of conflict will make your readers respond to you to either support you or correct you.

Mistake #4: Following my advice too closely

I hope that through this post I have given you new ideas for your next interview. Sure, if you follow these tips, an interview will no longer be a quick way to fill a slow week in blogging, but might even take more time than your normal posts.

But then again, your next interview might be one of your best posts ever.To make the interview perfect, you need to concentrate on your readers, and to think about what suits them best and what they expect from your blog.

Pick the ideas that you think will work, and use your imagination to come up with something totally different.

Also, if you have found any other useful tips for making your interviews stickier, share them in the comments so that we can all learn from each other’s experiences.

About Jarkko Lane

Dad. Micro-publisher. Home baker. Programmer. Insanely interested in everything.

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