Sunday, March 20, 2016

How to Do an Interview

Interviews are, as I have probably mentioned thousands of times, my favorite part of running a blog. There's something genuinely rewarding about having the chance to actually talk to someone you don't really know, to familiarize yourself with this person, and to learn things about a person which would otherwise not be heard.
While I could also say that it allows me to suffer less in that I only do half the writing, it's really only a side-bonus.
Just for the sake of it, I'm gonna go through the process of how I find someone I want to interview and the do's and don't's, because I can't tell you how many times I've messed up.
STEP 1: FIND SOMEONE
If you want to do an interview, it goes without saying that you're gonna need a person to, y'know, interview.
In terms of selecting a person, I try to switch between people of different works; for example, I try to avoid doing several musicians in a row. It's for the sake of keeping things fresh.
In addition, I want to find people who haven't been interviewed before. There are naturally going to be exceptions, and that's fine, but getting to work with someone who hasn't been through the process before is enjoyable in that you know that they will put effort into it; they won't act like a "cool cat" and copy-and-paste answers, and realistically, they're always gonna be humble.
Also important: this isn't a game of Pokemon. Don't try to get people just for the sake of them being "popular"; I've done it before and it's been disastrous. Find somebody that you admire that is approachable and don't think, "Pfft, JonTron would respond" because why the eff would you do that?


STEP 2: ASK THEM
This is the most worrisome part of my job. How will they respond? What will they think? Will they ignore me?
These are all genuine thoughts that go through my head every time.
My issue is the acceptance that, more often than not, people will definitely ignore you. In asking somebody, "Hey, wanna do an interview?", it'll go one of three ways: an excited "yes!", a polite "no," or the worst: ignoring altogether.
DID THEY GET IT? DID THEY NOT? DID THEY THINK IT WAS SPAM?
I never send spam emails. I try to type each one uniquely, but the issue is, it's hard to ask someone something online like "U WANNA DO INTERVIEW?" without it sounding like some automated message.
I am fine with "sorry, I can't" messages though, because it at least shows that the person took time out of their busy day to respond. For example, I asked Jordan Underneath before 20k subscribers (which would've been a MASSIVE oppurtunity), but alas, he simply said he couldn't.
...And he never kept in touch. SHAME HIM! SHAME HIM! (Please don't.)

And that's fine! I'm not gonna be angry. I accept that people are busy. I just think it's great that you gave a darn.
Aivi Tran was really nice about it, actually. (It was pre-Steven Universe, might I add.)

STEP 3: lebouf.jpg
Y'know, do it. Just do it.
OK, I'll stop.
One of the issues that I had to learn was that if you overstay your stalling time, people will forget that you ever asked. For example, I asked NFreakAdamnatorByron Buslig (I forgot about him and by the time I realized he was on hiatus. Then came back.), and probably many others, and never followed up.
I still feel really sorry about Adam, actually. He sounded so genuinely excited!... and I forgot about him. We're still (I think) mutual friends on Twitter, but... I just feel really bad about it.
I also once tried to stockpile. Horrible idea, by the way. Don't do that. (There's still one interview I haven't published.) In that way I, after a few months, lost almost complete contact with Chaseface (Salvaged it, by the way. It's still my favorite interview to date) and actually did lose complete contact with Dan Switzer (still a good interview too, by the way).
Don't be me back then. Be me now.
I try to ask AND post within the same month. By keeping the two closely intertwined, the person I talked to will probably be a heckuva lot happier in the end, and that's what I want.
STEP 4: Forge a style
"Style" is a weird word. It implies individuality in terms of artistic flair, and it's something you should strive towards.
T.S. Elliott once said, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”  Well, Elliott, there's a reason you're dead.
Soak inspiration like a sponge, but don't steal completely. While I don't think of myself as too clearly defined by Nintendo Power (though it was beautiful while it lasted), it at least helped give me some pointers and probably helped me decide to start interviewing in the first place. (Bonus fact: I interviewed Gourmet Gaming, who had already been interviewed by Nintendo Power... why she agreed for mine is beyond me, but I'm happy nonetheless.)
I try to follow some general guidelines, such as an introduction, favorite/least favorite video games, recognition, and niche questions centered around their personality, public appearance, and what they do. For example, because Chase was a fan of anime, it was a topic I circled back to a handful of times.
STEP 5: Type it up, fix the errors, and etc.
The most involved part on my job, other than creating the questions, is making a flattering (and honest enough) introduction to the person for the article.
Then, copy-and-paste the interview into the post, wary of adjusting the font and parts in bold for more cohesion.
For the most part, try to fix grammatical mistakes. I've realized overtime that people don't really like seeing things like this:
"And to be honset [sic] I never understood why [Mario] games were [so ridiculously] popular."
FIX THINGS FOR THEM. And also, check your own grammar. You don't want to look like an incompetent idiot who can't spell "business" or "thyroid". (Those two words have gotten me far in life.)
The most difficult one for me was undoubtedly the Hitokui Village interview, where I has to do rough Japanese-to-English translations.
I'll go over my steps to making it.
First, I had to be wary of what I typed. I wrote a basic question, put it through Google Translate, than translated it back to English to see if it still made sense. Even if it failed grammatically on the Japanese translation end, at least the message would be clearer.
Then, I had her (my subject, anonymously by the name of "M.") give answers in both Japanese (as she typed it) and garbled, translated English. In that way I could both get a better idea of how it should look in the end after a lot of rough translating as well as the original Japanese as an aid to both Japanese readers (who were the predominant readers of the post) and people who could understand the language.
Irrelevant picture of  naked John Quincy Adams.
You're welcome.
STEP 5: Decorating
Do you know how boring a post looks without decorations? ADD PICTURES.
While I started out using pictures pulled from the Internet, I overtime started to use more images I made myself to liven it up with strange images that you can't necessarily find elsewhere, such as a body pillow with a certain anime character on it. (That was a weird session.)
Don't have the technology? Neither do I! I literally whip up all of my images using Powerpoint, truly the poor man's Kid Pix when it comes to image editing.
Plus, I realized that it's kind of a jerk move to steal works of art without the creator's name on it and not credit them (though it's probably only happened like once or twice). (On the other hand, this lovely image shouldn't have the illustrator's name at the risk of festering up some Deviantart pro-nudity president community which I'm sure exists.)
STEP 6: Tweet it out!
Message the person you interviewed. Thank them for everything and send them a URL to the post to share, as well as tweeting out the interview yourself, making sure to tag the person so they can see it too.
And then you repeat the cycle.

For an example of a terrible interview, CLICK HERE.
For the last interview, CLICK HERE.

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