So someone asked me recently to talk about the keys to being a great interviewer, which means conducting a great interview. I've learned lots on doing interviews from Ken Coleman, both in terms of the art and the science. He is my interviewing hero, along with Charlie Rose. I'm going to ask Ken to also answer this question here on my blog.
But in the meantime, here are a few thoughts:
1. Do your homework. You would be amazed how many people show up to do an interview and have no clue about who they are interviewing, and just try to wing it. It shows. Believe me.
2. Ask the question behind the question. Get under the surface. Dig deeper. Not to uncover gossip or something that is not relevant, but because someone has probably already asked the question you are thinking about asking. So ask a better one.
3. Shutup. No one wants to hear your answer to the question, otherwise the tables would be turned. Your job is to pull great content out of the interviewee, not to give your opinion.
4. Create a conversation, not just a serve and volley. When appropriate, give the sense to your listeners that you are sitting in a living room having coffee and catching up. Creating conversation is different than just giving your opinion or an answer to your question. Conversations require context, which means you have to have 20 or 30 questions ready to go for an interview that would usually be around 10 questions.
5. Don't interrupt unless you need to, keep your hands off the table, and save your "ums" and "uh-huhs" and "oh-yeahs" for after you're done. For audio or video purposes, your agreeing by saying something just muddies the water. It seems like the thing to do in person- giving your interviewee verbal feedback, but just stick with non-verbal. Sounds better when you don't respond. And hitting or tapping the table is picked up by microphones- seems obvious, but everyone forgets.....