12 ways to become a top-notch interviewer

Help ensure the next person you interview sings like a revival choral member by following these tips.

So, you finally landed face time with the senior executive in charge of widgets for your company, you’re 20 minutes into your half-hour-allotted timeslot, you’ve asked your best questions, and yet you don’t know that much more than before you stepped into her office. You’re running out of things to talk about and you’d really like to get out of there, but you don’t have enough facts to write a cogent article.

Worse, because she’s the company expert, she’s the only one who can fill in the gaps and give your article the credibility it needs, but she’s hardly given you the time of day let alone any real information.

The problem, dear writer, may lie not with the stars but with thyself.

Not all people interviewed are inclined to be open; it’s the good interviewer who will open them up. Here’s how:

1. Understand your mission. Determine why you’re writing the story in the first place. If the story is your idea, what are you looking to accomplish? What’s your slant? Who’s your audience, and what do they need to know about the widget department?

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