I interview at least one person per working day and I’m not a recruiter. A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “Research your Research Options” where I forbid you to limit your research activities to the humble survey. Today, I’m asking you to consider using the not so humble interview for way more than simply hiring people.
As an authority marketer, my job is to establish my clients’ credibility and I do that in a number of ways:
- Pitching for speaking opportunities and writing speeches/presentations for events and conferences.
- Pitching for PR opportunities and ghost writing the articles.
- Writing awards applications for clients and, often, on behalf of their clients.
- Producing high-end research and content.
I can’t just make up hooks, narratives, speeches, case studies and white papers. I need to get under the skin of their product, their usage, their rationale, hopes, ambitions for the future and the ‘interview’ is my tool of choice.
Most people struggle putting pen to paper yet most requests for submissions are text based, it’s rare enough to be asked for an audio-visual pitch.
Few people struggle to express themselves verbally so enter the interview. I set up a call or visit, we chat for a while, I take a few notes and hey voila the next day we have a PR hook or article, a slide deck or some quality testimonials. I say the following sentence at least once per day: “Yes I know exactly what you mean, don’t worry I’ll find the words to express that succinctly if you just want to continue….”
I suppose that’s what a wordsmith does, I listen and write up the words they were searching for in our conversations. I think the trick is for the person not to feel like they’re being interviewed. I recently pitched for a freelance project and the person came back saying my pitch was ‘spot on, exactly what we were looking for‘ and he seemed almost surprised I had nailed the brief. It might have been rude to say ‘well what do you think that 90-minute chat was about?’ Perhaps he thought we were just shooting the breeze discussing his industry, business, best practice but I had an agenda.
Interviewing can be a useful skill in our personal lives too particularly in the rearing of two teenage sons!