What are the basic questions in an interview

Writing the Perfect Interview: Structure is the Key Factor

Questions, answers - is the interview finished? Of course, it's not that simple. There are many details to consider when preparing, conducting and writing an interview. And at the end there should be an article that people will love to read.

The be-all and end-all: a clean interview guide

One of the tasks of an author is to conduct interviews. Whether it is about an interview on a certain opinion, a person or a thing: It is important above all that the interviewer prepares the conversation well. Fundamental rules must be observed both during implementation and when writing down.

The preparation of the interview

The preparation starts with the Selection of the interlocutor at. Sure: if the topic is the person - for example a celebrity - the choice is given. But in interviews on a specific topic or an explicit opinion, the quality of the result depends on the interviewee.

  • Which expert guarantees interviews that won't get boring?
  • Which eyewitness reports vividly and informatively about an event?
  • Which politician offers more than just empty phrases when it comes to an exciting topic or a much-discussed opinion?

The goal of the interview is also important in the selection. Why is? Sometimes the real purpose of the interview is to explain something. Often, however, a certain opinion should also be the focus. It is important to find out possible content-related goals of the interview in advance. What is the ultimate message you want to convey? The selection of the interlocutor should be based on these criteria.

When the interlocutor has been determined (and has given his consent for an interview), it is time to select and formulate the questions. At least a basic framework should be in place. The rest often results from the dynamics of the conversation.

By the way: Preparing for an interview always requires a certain amount of specialist knowledge. You should therefore make sure, before the interview, whether this specialist knowledge is at least basic and refresh it if necessary!

Conducting an interview

Whether a conversation is successful depends largely on psychological aspects. Can you immediately find a line to the person you are talking to? Perfect! Then you probably won't have any trouble getting usable information. It is important that you, as the interviewer, be attentive and interested. The atmosphere in the conversation is correspondingly pleasant. The interviewee feels understood and valued. In order to gradually improve the atmosphere of the conversation, the following procedure is advisable: First, ask the questions that are easy for the other person to answer. This already conveys him a sense of security at the beginning. Then the Questions gradually become more difficult and critical become.

So the main point of the interview is to loosen up the mutual relationship. This also means that the author listens carefully to the interviewee and always takes himself back. If you pay close attention to what the interlocutor says, you will be inspired to ask interesting questions in the course of the conversation.

In detail, the interviewer proceeds as follows:

  1. It starts with a friendly greeting.
  2. The questions are asked individually.
  3. Answers can be commented on. Often the answers lead to further questions.
  4. The author takes notes during the interview. The interview may only be recorded with the consent of the respondent.
  5. At the end, the interview partner is said goodbye.

Encourage the interlocutor to talk

Of course, the interviewer can use a few psychological tricks here and there to lure explosive information or true feelings from his interlocutor. However, one should not be too brash, otherwise the partner in the conversation can easily become an opponent.

  • A little Small talk before the actual interview serves to loosen up.
  • Constant eye contact signals attention to the other person.
  • It is important always good to listen.
  • Short, simple questions are particularly well suited to get usable answers that the interlocutor cannot evade.

Open W-questions (“Who ...?”, “How ...?”, “When ...?”, “Where ...?”, “Why ...?”) Are particularly suitable here. The interviewee should always be given enough time to talk out. It is crucial for the success of the interview that the interlocutor speaks significantly more than the questioner. In order to get a clear position, leading questions are also allowed - but the interviewer should use these sparingly.

Write an interview: structure

When writing an article, the author is largely free. An interview, on the other hand, sets clear limits for the author - if the conversation has already been held. Because what is spoken is the basis of the text. The respondent has the right to have his or her answers given truthfully. The essence of the questions and answers must not be falsified. This is why the preparation of the interview is so important - especially the content and structure of the questions.

One thing is clear: the interview does not have to be recorded one-to-one (with every throat clearing of the interlocutor and every slip of the tongue). Slight changes are possible. So you can leave out individual passages in order to shorten the text as a whole. Attention: These omissions must not change the meaning of the statements. You can also change the order of the questions. But what has been said above also applies here accordingly.

At the end of the preparation of an interview for a magazine, a newspaper or a website, there is a so-called “shaped interview” - that is, what ultimately finds its way into print or online. This list can serve as a guide:

  1. Introduction with a short Introduction of the interlocutor and the topic. For example, what was the reason that this interview was conducted?
  2. They belong at the beginning Questions that introduce the topic and provide orientation for the reader. The ideal is a structure that explains the topic by itself to a completely unsuspecting reader.
  3. The same applies to the interview: The The structure has to be right dramaturgically. The interview gets deeper and deeper into the topic and becomes more exciting line by line.
  4. The questions should always be shorter than the answers.
  5. At the end of the interview there should be a concise statement stand.

If the interviewee has not given his / her consent in advance, the finished interview must be authorized. Only then can it be published.

Write an interview: FAQs

The term interview is made up of the Latin “inter” (in between) and the English “view” (opinion). It is a special form of questioning. Interviews are standardized and structured to various degrees. A highly standardized interview takes place, for example, with a questionnaire. A free interview, on the other hand, does not have any guidelines regarding the questions. There are also semi-structured interviews.

What types of interviews are there?

In general, we differentiate between structured, unstructured and semi-structured interviews.

  • The structured interview follows a strict structure: the questions recorded on a questionnaire are processed gradually.
  • In the unstructured interview, the interviewer attaches importance to the fact that the interview partner speaks freely and freely. The conversation partner is not directed.
  • The semi-structured (semi-structured) interview directs the respondent in a certain direction here and there. The questions and their order are flexible. The focus is on the dynamics of the conversation.

What types of questions are there in an interview?

A closed question allows only one possible answer. The advantage: clear information. However, the closed question can also stall the course of the conversation. A open question gives the interviewee a lot of freedom.

A direct question creates an open relationship to the interviewee and the topic. Example: "What is your opinion on this?" indirect question aims at the same thing. However, it disguises this intention by supposedly aiming for a different answer. Example: "What do you think what XYZ would say?"

A based question already contains possible answers. In doing so, she helps the interlocutor, especially if he is a little unsure. The unsupported question however, leaves all possible answers open. It gives room for a flow of speech.

Suggestive questions anticipate the answer or already offer an answer: “Was it XYZ who made this suggestion?” Rhetorical questions, on the other hand, are only questions in their formal structure. In terms of content, they are already statements. Of Leading questions and rhetorical questions should be used with caution.

Control issues steer the interview in a certain direction. You bring in new topics or focus on content-related aspects. Maintenance issues keep the interview going without touching any new aspect of the content. You stay in the narrative situation (“How was that for you?”) Or continue writing it (“How did it go on?”).

How long should an interview be?

The spice lies in brevity - this wisdom also applies to interviews. An interview that is ultimately read must not be too long. If a conversation is very tough, you as the interviewer should of course plan more time in order to get usable answers. In general, you should write down around 15 questions every half an hour.

To what extent can answers be changed?

What the respondent says should be reproduced verbatim as much as possible. Exceptions apply to obvious slip of the tongue or grammatical errors. These can be corrected. The language of the interview may also be revised if, for example, colloquial language is translated into written language.

Important: changes are the absolute exception. Because the meaning of what is said should always remain.

Write an interview: determine the structure - conduct the conversation - write down the result

These are the three crucial steps for an interview. Where the author has a lot of freedom with other articles, these are limited during the interview. So it is all the more important to prepare the interview well and to ensure that the interviewee is happy to answer during the implementation.


  • 11.11.2020
  • 12.11.2020

  • Textbroker editorial team
  • Blog, Content & More, Successful Copywriting, For Authors, For Customers