How to write an interview article for a magazine
If someone asked me what is my favorite type of article to read, it would be interview articles for sure. There is just something so personal and engaging to them that tickles my curiosity buds while still providing a fair amount of interesting information. It can be quite challenging to write this type of article, so here are some tips and tricks that will help you in your quest on how to write an interview article for a magazine. And not just any but the perfect one.
Before we get to the practical tips, make sure you have a reliable laptop for writers, since it will save you a lot of trouble down the road. If you are more of a visual learner, there’s a video you can watch at the end of this article. Let’s dive in!
Things to keep in mind when writing an interview article
1. Choose your questions wisely
This is probably one of the most important steps in the process of writing an interview article as it all starts with asking the right questions to the interviewee.
First, you will need to do a lot of research work and collect as much information as you can on the person you are going to interview. You can use tools like Evernote and OneNote to keep track of all the information so you can refer back to them easily down the road. You can either read their biography, previous interviews or read about their current projects, interests and the list can go on. This will not only give you a solid background of the interviewee but will also make you aware of what has already been written, so that you can put a spotlight on some interesting and fresh information. No one wants to read the same facts about someone over and over again, this is why it’s best to find new topics to tackle. And speaking about topics, try to choose a focus topic for the interview. That being said, it’s not a rule you need to take literally, but it’s recommended you stick with a main topic so that you’re not all over the place with your questions. Choose an aspect of the interviewees life that is both remarkable and fits the interests of the reader. Or seek a certain topic worth discussing and develop some questions around it. You can always add a few extra questions still related to the main topic, but with a twist, maybe something unexpected that requires a more spontaneous answer to spice things up for the reader.
Tip: Select questions for interview that best fit your approach. Avoid typical interview questions and ask questions that are intriguing. For example, instead of asking, “How did you achieve your success in tennis?” ask, “They call you the ‘next Federer’ … what three qualities do you think you share with the Swiss tennis player?”
2. Structure of the article
Once you have narrowed down the questions you wish to address and have conducted the interview (here you can find a comprehensive guide on how to interview someone for an article), the next step is to actually write the article. Here is where you have endless options and can get your creative juices to flow in terms of how you wish to structure the article. If there isn’t a specific code you need to follow, I would say that these days there isn’t one winning rule. Most writers feel the need to post the picture, questions and answers in a logical sequence. Which is not bad, but then again chances are this makes for a rather boring interview article.
Before anything else, you need to choose the perspective from which you wish to write the article. There are roughly three perspectives you can use:
- Literal: write down the questions, followed by the literal/ only slightly rephrased answers (the classic Q and A);
- Narrative: describe what the interviewee says in third person;
- Hybrid: leave out the questions and combine narrative statements with direct quotes.
You can stick with one of the first two perspectives for the entire article, or you can use the hybrid one depending on the dynamic and tone you want to give to the article.
Also, make sure you have a strong start and ending as these are the pillars of your structure. Choose the most provocative questions and answers to be featured at the beginning and at the end so that this way you keep the interest of the reader from start to finish. Moreover, you can insert some of the main answers as quotes to break the article and make it less boring.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the actual interview might be full of half sentences, unspoken words, or sudden changes of topic. When doing your after-call work reviewing video and notes of your conversation, you’ll inevitably realize something: to make the interview readable, you’ll have to rephrase most sentences. And when it comes to rephrasing, there’s a simple rule of thumb:
Rephrase as much as you like, but don’t change the message.
Nonetheless, try and make it attractive. Starting from the title and ending with the last answer, always keep in mind this: “How can I put things so that it’s appealing for the reader?” Look for the most interesting stuff and reorder the questions of the interview if needed so that you give readers the feeling that they have just read the story of a conversation and not a cold sharp interview. Add suggestive photos, insert quotes and let your emotions guide you. Remember, you’re in complete control at this point!
Tip: Try to give the interview article some sort of narrative or structure, without making it too linear and logical. In the end, just ask yourself if it’s something you’d enjoy reading.
3. Magazine article interview examples to get inspired from
Finding it hard to be creative? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Luckily, if you’re stuck in a rut, there are plenty of magazine interview article examples on the Internet to draw inspiration from. I’ve selected a few of the ones that I have enjoyed reading, and remember, even if you’re probably never going to interview Adele or Brad Pitt, articles like this can plant an idea in your mind or awaken your creative buds. It can be anything from the title, the layout of the interview article, to the questions, the perspective from which it is written and so on.
Serena Williams’ interview for Vogue, as well as Adele’s one for Vanity Fair are some impressive articles that somehow manage to bring these big stars closer to the public by sharing some candid moments and information with the readers. Brad Pitt’s interview for GQ magazine is rather an interesting one since it’s a roller coaster of perspectives, questions, emotions and quite artistic pictures that altogether reveal a different side of the actor.
However, if these interview articles are a bit too much, on our blog you can find some interviews to start with, like this one with Debbie Millman or this one featuring Jacob Cass. You’re really just one click away from a plethora of interview articles.
Tip: Don’t copy other interview articles, but use them rather as an inspiration and add the missing pieces in order to make your own greater. This is especially important when outsourcing interviews to contractors on popular freelance websites, as freelancers usually use standard content templates on many different projects due to ease of use and efficiency.
Writing an interview article can be quite challenging and overwhelming at times, but as long as you keep in mind the above-mentioned tips, you should be on a good path. And remember, there isn’t a one rule applies to all. You can make it as fun or as serious as you want. Just ask yourself at the end if it’s something you’d really enjoy reading.