Interviews are a fantastic way to quickly produce quality book content. They invite thought, pose options, and allow responses that are focused and valuable. The best content, however, comes from questions that have a purpose, support a concept, and allow for a quality exchange of information that will provide the reader with the solutions they are seeking.
To provide the types of questions that produce the strongest responses, the following guidelines can be helpful.
1. Ask open-ended questions.
Do not ask questions that can easily be answered with a yes or no, or either/or response. You want the interviewee to elaborate when answering their questions. A good way to encourage that type of response is to ask the person to explain his or her answer.
For example, instead of asking, “Which is more effective—Internet marketing or print advertisements?, ask “How does print and Internet marketing differ, and if you prefer one over another, why?”
These types of questions will help the responder provide fully-developed answers to your question and supporting reasons for their opinions.
2. Seek answers to frequently asked questions.
You could among a wide range of questions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority of your readers are interested in the answers. Ask questions that you are relatively sure they want to want to learn about. (A good way to find those FAQs is to research forums for common questions or to find the most popular keywords or phrases being entered into search engines.)
3. Avoid biased questions—those that assume that the interviewer already knows the answer. Example: Why do you think sugar contributes to obesity? Instead, ask: “Can you provide any information that suggests sugar is or is not related to obesity?” The first question suggests the interviewer already knows the answer, which limits the discussion. The second question, however, gives the interviewee an opportunity to express their viewpoint and provide information that supports it.
4. Don’t stick to your script.
In a structured interview, you’d ask one question and move on to the next. It’s a great way to stay focused and keep on message, but it’s limiting, as well. In answering a question, an interviewee might bring up a point that is pertinent or wasn’t previously considered. It’s also possible that an answer can trigger a viewpoint or even a concept that has been overlooked. Be open-minded and prepared to be flexible in the event the interviewee provides insight or new information that you believe is valuable. Then feel free to ask them to elaborate.
Here are a few examples of interview questions that can help you create quality book content.
Topic: How Shy Men Can Attract Women
Chapter: Good Places to Meet Women
1. How does the place where a man meets a woman impact his comfort level and ability to communicate?
2. Where is a shy man most likely to find women who have a similar personality?
3. Which is better—a quiet setting where a man and woman can talk one-on-one, or a group setting, where a shy man might not feel as pressured—and why?
4. Please provide five common places where shy men are most likely to meet women?
5. From your experience, what are the worst places for shy men to go to meet women, and why don’t you recommend them?
Topic: Funding a Child’s College Education
Chapter: Sources of Funding
1. When should a parent begin saving for their child’s college education?
2. What types of tax or savings incentives do college-savings programs provide?
3. Please provide a brief overview of the types of federal financial aid and what they cover.
4. What sources of non-government funding are available for students?
5. Does the college or university affect the amount of funding a student will receive? If so, how?
Book Topic: Organic Gardening
Chapter: The Health Benefits of Growing and Eating Organic Foods
1. Nutritionally, how do organic foods compare to conventionally grown foods?
2. Organic foods are free of pesticides and hormones. How do these additives affect the body?
3. How can switching to organic foods prevent disease or illness?
4. What are the physical benefits of growing and eating organic food?
5. What are the mental benefits of growing and eating organic food?
6. Are organic foods safe for the entire family, even unborn children?
Each of these questions invites a discussion, explanation, or viewpoint. They are all capable of providing an author with quality responses, which is great. However, the highest quality content includes examples and/or case studies that the reader can relate to. For that reason, don’t forget to add one of the most important interview questions whenever you can: “What examples can you recall where you (found this to be true, were able to accomplish, knew someone who…, etc.)”