"Getting the Interview Right" is about knowing your subject. Being prepared. Listening and more listening. Good note taking. Professional follow-up and appreciation. Regardless whether we call it an interview or an appointment they are both the same. You are taking someone's time and sharing your time with them. Make the most of it be it a job interview, a match making session, getting to know a new friend or meeting your kids teacher. These skills help you retain important information and make the most of your time and their's.

They say, "Getting the Appointment" is half the job. I agree with them...whomever they are. As the executive producer of an entertainment television program for 12 years, I have set many appointments. Everything from interviewing Chubby Checker on a back stage tour, to an interview on XM Radio with Marianne Williamson on the topic of marriage. It all starts with the first phone call to get the appointment. Then time, patience and persistence are required. When I am diligent I am usually successful in meeting with just about anyone. Now you will be successful too.

My methods for contacting guests for an interview usually begins 30 days or so before I plan on setting an appointment. First I place a friendly call to their assistant or secretary. This is an important call because I never know who will be on the other end of the phone. It may be the person I want to interview. It could be their manager, spouse or other. I remind myself that I am contacting them for something - they are not calling me. Therefore, I always use my most professional skills and never stray into anger if the person on the phone says, "So and So is busy now, can I take a message?". The anger may not come on the first call or the second but by the time you leave a 10th message and have not heard back - you may feel anger...I have.

It took me 6 months to get one of my first appointments.
I called every Monday around 10am and left a message with a secretary about the meeting I wanted to set. I was selling advertising for the cable company and my sales manager gave me a lead on an attorney who hadn't advertised in years. I pursued the client, the appointment and the interview. I turned the appointment and interview into a nice fat advertising contract eventually - but I had to stay with it for 6 months. Plus I had to remain nice and friendly with each message I left.

This article is about what to do after you have the appointment set. Next you need to plan for "Getting the Interview Right".
First and foremost, do your homework. Research the person and their business on the internet. Be prepared with several questions about the topic you are discussing. Next, walk into the appointment with a slight air of confidence, friendliness and open with a compliment. For instance, "This is a lovely office. I noticed the plaques and awards in the waiting room. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me".
Everyone likes to be appreciated and recognized. Don't over do it - be authentic.

During the interview/meeting, ask questions about the person and then listen. Have your questions in a notebook and take notes on what the person is talking about. Short notes to remind you of important details. Make eye contact often. Nod your head in response. Refrain from interrupting or commenting out of turn. When you do make a personal contact or relate to something said, keep your comments brief and always return with a question. This will keep you on track. Otherwise you may begin speaking about a personal experience and find it difficult to return to the interview.

Listening is key. Be mindful of letting your mind wander to the next question on your page. Or about the comment you want to express. Stay focused and stay on track. Allow the interview to flow in the direction the speaker wants to go in. You will have time to follow-up and ask your final questions at the conclusion of the interview. The speaker may bring up a subject you have not considered. It may be valid to the point of your interview. Open your mind to consider new ideas. Make a short note and then refer back to your list of questions if you get off track. At the conclusion of the interview give a brief overview of the topics covered. Take a moment to review the information you have. Now is the time to ask another question before you leave.

Thank the person. Assure them you will send them info and updates on the topics discussed. Finally, review the conversation as you leave and then make notes in your notebook when you have time. Also send an email thank you note a day or two later.

Take time to let the information filter through your mind. I get a feeling when it's time for me to write. As I think of all the interviews I've done over the years - I'm joyous that I followed through and did not leave anything to chance!

Author's Bio: 

Kathy Kingsbury began writing as a youngster. Early in her career as a TV Reporter she came to believe that everyone has a story to tell. Kathy and her husband Dale Ansite, a TV News Cameraman, started a television show in 1996 in San Luis Obispo, CA. In 2004 the couple launched Oregon Living Television on FOX-TV. The weekly program showcases everyday people making a difference in their businesses, homes and communities. Kathy and Dale have a 10-year old daughter, two goldens and 5 kitty cats. Kathy is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and Dale is a graduate of Brooks Institute.