Hugo Sebastian Hirsch has conducted many interviews throughout his lengthy career as a writer and blogger, and during that time he has encountered some very interesting interview subjects. Hirsch recently took some time out to discuss some of his most interesting interview sessions, noting that he especially enjoys the longer sessions in which he is able to get a sense of the subject’s background and personal philosophy. While Hirsch notes that some interviews are undeniably better than others, he believes that every interview can be compelling if the subject feels comfortable and is asked the right questions.
According to Hirsch, every interviewer should recognize the importance of thorough research that is conducted well in advance of the actual interview. Even information that seems irrelevant at the time may prove to be essential or may provide important context for the interview subject’s statements. Of course, any information provided by the subject has to be independently verified by the interviewer for the sake of accuracy, as doing so protects both parties from unintentionally publishing something that is incorrect.
Hirsch added that he likes to allow the interview subject to select the time and place for the interview, as it is far more important for the person being interviewed to feel comfortable and at ease than it is for the person conducting the interview. A professional will be prepared with their questions well in advance and will not be affected by their surroundings, whereas an interviewee may become more guarded if the atmosphere is unfamiliar to them. Giving the subject control of time and place also engenders a sense of trust that is essential, as a feeling of trust is absolutely necessary to yield an interview that is open, interesting and expansive.
“I have found over the years that the best interview sessions are those in which the subject feels totally at ease and is comfortable taking time to thoughtfully respond to each question I ask,” says Hirsch. “This takes patience on the part of the interviewer, but the extra time spent on the interview is well worth it when the responses are insightful and interesting. Conducting an interview in this way also makes it more likely that others will want to be interviewed in the same way in the future, as it is always clear when an interviewer has taken a professional approach and is committed to ensuring complete accuracy.”