Ask better questions – and keep asking until you get to the marrow.
Unfairly, Q&A articles are often seen as the lazy way to generate content. But they are one of the richest sources of inspiration if the interviewee is interesting, and the interviewer asks the right questions.
One of my favourite Q&A projects was led by Together and Sunspell. They go deep. They ask about dreams and childhoods and early memories. But I don’t limit myself to blog form Q&As. I also listen to good podcast interviewers like Tim Ferris. I have a soft spot for Humans of New York, and more recently, Subway Book Review (talking to people on the subway about the books they are reading).
The best interviewers have an antenna for detail. They are curious. They ask people to be specific. They ask for examples. They ask weird questions. The best way to do this is over the phone or in person. Record. Transcribe. It’s the hard way, but you get better articles.
Whenever I heard a good interview question, I add it to a list on my phone. Here are a few examples:
What did you learn this week that you will still care about five years from now? What is one thing you believe that other people think is crazy? What book have you given away most as a gift? What are three questions you don’t know the answer for right now?
Ask the questions. Get out the way and let them talk. Dig more until you reach the marrow.
Then hit publish.