The company newsletter or blog is the official mouthpiece for the organization, distributing information, company changes, or helpful education to employees. But it’s also a social piece, introducing new employees, or celebrating their accomplishments. The task of writing interview-based articles can fall on any talented writer in the company– including you.

Preparation is Key

As when interviewing a developer, you must be prepared for the interview. Get to know your subject before the interview. You may have been asked to interview them by your boss, their boss, the HR department, or someone in the organization. Find out from that person why they think the subject is a good interview candidate. If they’re a newly hired employee, see if you can take a look at their resume and, if the hiring manager isn’t too busy, talk to the person who interviewed them for the job in the first place.

Run a quick google search about your subject to see if they’re online and in what capacity. Do they have a blog? Are they a frequent forum member? Make note of anything that’s both interesting and non-damaging to the subject, so you can ask them about it during the interview.

Have your audio or video recording equipment ready and pre-tested for quality. Make sure your subject knows in advance that they’ll be recorded, and if they seem hesitant, bring extra paper because you may need to turn off the recorder to get the subject to open up.

Understand Your Role

Outside of The Tonight Show, the interview is never about the interviewer– it’s about the person being interviewed (also called the subject). When you read Q & A interviews in magazines, you’ll sometimes see the interviewer get off topic and talk about something other than the subject, but this is neither necessary nor particularly desired; the interview is all aboutyour subject, not you.

Company newsletters tread a line between business writing, journalism, and public relations, though they’re most like PR than anything else. Still, when you set up the interview, take a few tips from journalistic interviews and identify who you are and why you’re writing the article when you set up the interview appointment.

Also know how the interview will be presented in the newsletter. Are you going to provide a simple transcript? Will you rewrite the interview as an employee profile? Is it going to be posted as a blog? Podcast? If it’s a podcast, make sure you have the audio equipment set up for high quality recording; you don’t want to post a crackly, unintelligible file to the company blog.

Be Friendly and Personable

Before the interview starts, go through the kinds of questions you have prepared, and give your subject an opportunity to think about their answers.

Start recording the interview by introducing the subject’s by name and occupation, as well as why they’re being interviewed. Even if your goal is to turn the interview into an article, you’ll want that information handy when you start listening.

Open your subject up by tossing a few “softball” questions at them, simple background questions like where they went to school, or how they got into their profession. None of the questions should be particularly taxing for employee profiles, although when you interview executives, it’s common to ask questions about their vision for the future of the company.

Closing the Interview

Wrap up the interview by thanking your subject and telling them what will happen next. Inform them of when the article is expected to run in the newsletter, and confirm that you can call them if you need to fact-check or confirm any quotes. Although it’s uncommon in journalism to accept redactions at this point, in a company newsletter, it’s all right to ask them after the interview if they have anything in particular that they mentioned that they would like you to leave out.

Do not agree to let them pre-approve the article before publication unless the subject is an executive at the company. For executives, however, let them preview it, as there are legal and FCC implications whenever an executive discusses the company.