Interviewing without all the prep!

By Sue Varty, Founder & CEO

Podcasts, webinars, panels, firesides: people are constantly interviewing other people! And while you might think it’s exhausting to curate an engaging conversation, it doesn’t have to be.

Over time I have developed my “no-prep” approach to interviewing others. It helps people feel comfortable and at ease to discuss what they are passionate about.

  1. Do not prepare custom questions or send questions in advance to your guest.
    Your own questions can feed biases and make them talk about what you want. You want encourage authentic spontaneity and a more lively discussion.

  2. Uncover what your guest wants to discuss by asking open-ended questions.
    Open-ended questions allow your guest to drive what they want to say.
    There is no prep required from you or your guest using this approach. All they have to do is show up and talk about what matters to them.

    Sue’s favourite “no prep” questions in recommended order:
    – If someone invited you to speak at an event, what topic would you talk about?
    – Tell me about your background.
    – What advice do you have for others just starting their career?
    – What has brought you success in building your career?
    – What do you want to be known for?

  3. After you ask one of these questions, be silent.
    Embrace the natural silence that follows the question. We are all naturally inclined to speak to fill that void; it takes practice to push back on the urge. But if you let silence flow, your guest will fill it with personal insight. Let their passion talk.

  4. Ask follow-up questions during the interview.
    – Why did you want to learn the skills/expertise you mentioned?
    – Why are the skills/topics/expertise you mentioned important for others?
    – What examples can you tell us about?
    – Based on that, what do you want others to know?
    – Why?
    – What else?
    – Can you provide an example?
  5. Bonus Tip from Lawrence Cummer, one of our writers…
    Drop your ego. Be curious but leave your ego behind and “forget what you know.” Your guest’s insights are what you’re after.

  6. (Optional for blogs) Based on the interview answers above, write the questions and organize their responses to create a draft.
  7. (Optional for blogs) After the interview, ask the guest to review the questions as well as the answers.


Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio 

All Posts




HeadStart is an extension of your team to help you finish your content projects. Call 1.416.712.4440 or contact us.