Your query – perfection – and you got the gig. Your email to the leading big wig on the subject – golden – he/she said yes. Your reaction – PANIC!
Deep down, you never really thought Professor Large Brain would glance at your email or return your call. You were perfectly happy with Professor Adequate Brain who you knew would jump at the chance to chime in our your piece. Now you have all that brain to yourself for at least an hour. Now what?
High Five Yourself.
Let’s get it out the way now, go ahead and look at yourself in the mirror and wink. It’s okay. We all do it. It’s an accomplishment when you land any source and some sources, well, you just have to strut for a minute. Take a deep breath and remember this feeling for the next time a source refuses to acknowledge your existence.
It’s normal to feel a little nervous before interviewing a source, but keeping your emotions in check is essential to doing your best. Leave the awe and self-doubt at home. You’ve got a job to do – get the info – and besides most interviewees are more nervous than the writer. Another perk? Most seasoned sources like talking about themselves or hearing themselves talk which makes it easier on you. Just remember to reign them in from time to time!
Do the prep work.
Taking time to prepare and research for the interview will help the interview flow smoothly. When interviewing someone who is often a source, it takes a bit of research to come up with questions that haven’t been asked a million times. It also takes digging to find the real facts about the person instead of the widely reported, but often incorrect tidbits of legend.
Treat it the same.
Yes, it’s awesome to interview the President of the United States – or so I hear – and it’s just as awesome to interview your local fire fighter or elected official because no one has to talk with you! Every writer has a groove they like to get into before, during and after an interview. Stick with what works. Do the pre-interview checklist: batteries, paper, pen, back-ups. Take notes just the way you always do. This might not be the right time to try out a new digital recorder.
Landing a big source is a wonderful accomplishment. Being able to keep your head before, during and after is what separates the pros from the newbies.