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How to Get The Most Out of Your Expert Interview

Whether you’re new to the journalism trade or just introverted, interviewing can be a daunting task – especially when you’re on deadline. In the latest Mediabistro feature, veteran writers give tips on how you can get the most out of your interviews, and what tools to use in the process. Though we have all sorts of technology to help us nowadays with recording and transcribing, there are some skills that will always be necessary in the art of interviewing:

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If your expert uses an unfamiliar term or draws an analogy that doesn’t make sense, ask her to expound. If you don’t understand something your expert says, your readership may not, either — and your job as a writer is often to boil down complicated or abstract ideas into practical information.

Freelance writer Rachel Heston-Davis admits she learned this after trial and error. She emphasizes the importance of asking an expert to reiterate because “you will not be able to figure something out from context later.” She adds that having misinformation in your article, or a lack of information, reflects poorly on both you as a writer and your interviewed expert. Getting clarification in an interview “really is better than the [expert] looking at your article and feeling like you didn’t understand what you’re writing about.”

For more on interviewing skills and tools, read Get the Most Out of Your Interview With an Expert.

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