qmunicate’s guide to interviews: notes from our interview workshop

From the Scottish Refugee Council to the Mac Twins, qmunicate have interviewed a vast array of people in our time. But we get that interviews can seem scary, especially if you’ve never done one before, so here are our top tips for them!

What sort of interviews are available?

In the past we have interviewed local social enterprises,musicians, the Glasgow Uni rector, and the founders of Femspectives Film Festival. But it’s not limited to this, and you may have the chance to interview other people, including politicians, authors, and directors.  

 

Our most popular interviews are to do with music or film, so our music editor, Grace, and film editor, Amelie, share some details about these.  

Music:

 Interviews are often in conjunction with gigs, and normally happen before but can also be over the phone or email
 As with a gig, you can usually bring a plus one
 Do your research
  • Consider whether they have a new album or single out
  • Watch YouTube interviews if available 
 Personalise the interview, especially if it’s a band you are a fan of

 

Film:

 Interviews are usually focused on smaller directors or short films, and so it can be harder to find background reading for it
 Try and engage in their product, for example take notes on the film
 Questions can include
  • Focusing on the film’s themes
  • The process of making the film
  • On how it was received at film festivals
 If you have issues with the film, feel free to question elements of it, but avoid being confrontational

 

Now for some general tips on the interview process.

Before the interview:

 Do background research
  • Are there any campaigns or causes which are important to the interviewee?
 Prepare questions in advance
  • This will make you seem self-confident and assured, and you will always have something to fall back on if the conversation stagnates
  • Make sure that they flow naturally
  • If you’re unsure about any of the questions you want to ask, or have any questions about the interview yourself, don’t hesitate to message your editor for advice
 We suggest recording the interviews, and afterwards you can transcribe them
  • Ensure that your device is charged and has enough space to record
  • Ensure that you have permission to record 
  • Place the device in the middle between you and the interviewee so that you can record both sides of the conversation
 Make sure that you’re there early

 

During the interview:

 Be courteous and professional throughout 
 It’s good to start with more general and easy questions to build a rapport and then move onto the more complex and specific questions
  •  For example, ask them about current projects 
  • But don’t be too generic, you should show that you know about the person’s work and why they are currently being interviewed
 Don’t come up with trick questions that are very difficult to answer- the goal of the interview should be to have an organic but insightful conversation 
  • Avoid invasive, personal questions
 Don’t just go down your list of questions! Be organic, follow the flow of the answers, and try to segue from topic to topic as naturally as possible
 React to what the interviewee is saying. 
  • Make notes of key points of their answers during the interview, and then possibly ask them to elaborate on them and respond to the answers with related questions. 
  • Don’t stick to the script- if the interview moves away from your prepared questions but the answers are still good and relevant, lean into that! That way you can have a natural-feeling interview that goes in depth on key topics
 Have fun during the interview! This is an exciting opportunity, and don’t be scared to crack jokes or to ask a quirky question

  • Value unexpected chat – this often makes the interview unique and enjoyable for both you and the interviewee 
 Get pictures of or with them – with their consent
 Be conscious of the time – if allocated an hour, don’t talk their ear off for three!
  • This is especially true for musicians as they often have to go on stage after. You don’t want to be cut off before you ask the best questions!

 

After the interview:

 Back up your recordings – better to be safe than sorry!
 Transcribe your transcript
 Email to say thank you
 Maintain communication with your editor, and let them know if you have any issues
 The usual turnover for an interview is around a week, but speak to your editor directly
 Music interviews should co-ordinate with gig reviews
  • Consider having the interview tie in with the review in its themes

 

There are two main ways to go about writing the article.

1) A transcript of the interview, which is more common with interviews with musicians
2) Interweaving what the interviewee said with a description of the place or group you are talking to. 

We looked at two different examples of interviews, and discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each one.

The Mac Twins:

 This is an example of the first type of interview
 It flowed well, and felt conversational and chatty
 Any tangents were not detrimental, as the pre-planned questions helped the interviewees get back on track
 However it was constrained by the context of the interview as gig interviews are harder to contextualise 

Kinning Park Complex:

 This is an example of the second type of interview
 The narrative and visual context are very good, it creates a strong sense of the context of the interview
– This is helped by the pictures within the article

 

We hope that this has helped make interviews seem a little less scary. Keep your eyes peeled for any upcoming interview opportunities, and if you have any issues please feel free to message Eleanor, the editor-in-chief.

Leave a Reply