7 Smart Ways to Interview a topic Matter Expert

By Lucy Merriman

Interviewing subject matter experts — or SMEs — can be lucrative for freelance writers. The career website Indeed posits that the average SME in the United States earns $114, 000 per year for their expertise.

As a author who creates content regarding private or Enterprise customers through the Constant Content platform, you can add the value of SME experience to your articles and provide their insights to your clients’ audiences.

To do that well, though, you’ll have to learn how to interview an SME. In this guideline, learn how to conduct interviews meant for research with a subject matter professional.

What Is a Subject Matter Professional?

A subject matter specialist is a professional who’s cultivated a deep well of knowledge. They may be knowledgeable about a niche topic, a skill, a process, or a specific set of technologies, machinery, or even materials.

Why Carry out Interviews for Research Before Creating Content?

Much more your content unique—and a potential primary resource.  

Your interview with an SME should remove insights the reader wants to find out. And it should cover a seemingly complex topic in language that’s accessible to your audience.

Hone your interviewing strategy by taking the following tips:

1 . Find the Right Material Expert

To find related SMEs, read trade journals in the chosen field. These might be professional journals, weblogs, or professional organization notifications.

You can also find relevant subject matter professionals at conventions where they might be invited to speak.

Reach out to SMEs via email or even LinkedIn. If you can’t find their contact information effortlessly, use an email finder like hunter. io.

When you reach out, maintain your request friendly, specific, plus short.  

In your message, say why you respect their expertise on the subject and mention what you’d like to job interview them about specifically. If you give an estimate showing how long you think the job interview will take, it shows all of them that you respect their time.

2 . Do Sufficient Research to Grasp the Context—and Find Potential Hooks

Before you conduct the interview, do enough research to comprehend why your SME’s contribution to the field matters. Ask yourself:

  • What insights do they have that other experts don’t?  
  • What trends or events are your audience worried about?  
  • What exactly is your audience excited about?

For instance, consider the ad tech industry in 2021. Search engines had announced that it would block third-party cookies on Google Chromium. Digital marketers were freaked out.

Third-party cookies had been the main tool digital advertisers used to gather user data. This data let them carry out high-value marketing strategies—like focused ads that follow users through site to site.  

Many in the ad industry had an opinion about Google’s forthcoming ban. But when AdWeek commissioned its 14-page report, The Passing away of Cookies , this didn’t interview just any kind of advertising executive with a popular take.

Instead, AdWeek authors chose to interview CEOs of ad tech startups like ID5—those with technology ready to evolve and thrive in this new environment.  

To know which ad tech leaders were most likely to get those insights, AdWeek’s writers had to understand the landscape good enough to compare different developers’ techniques.

3. Consider Various kinds of Interviews

Two sorts of interviews enhance great content material most often.  

The first is the traditional interview. A traditional interview speaks with an SME “on the particular record. ” The SME offers commentary or evidence of a technical subject according to the interviewer’s questions. The particular explanations are relevant to the broader, contemporary discussion in the field.

The second type of interview is certainly conducted through observational confirming. The writer meets the SME at a scene, like an expert’s demo of new technology . The particular writer transcribes what they observe then asks clarifying questions. An investigative report of the nature may incorporate quotations from several different SMEs to paint a comprehensive picture of the event.

4. Create Your Thesis Questions

Your thesis questions let you develop a throughline in your interview. This throughline becomes the particular backbone of your outline when you write.

Most of these questions stick to “what/why/how” format. What’s the best idea? Why is it highly relevant to your audience? How can readers apply these insights?

The solutions to these three questions give you a solid core you can form the rest of your piece around.

5. Take the Feynman Approach to Follow-Up Questions

The Feynman technique is a great understanding strategy. It’s also one of the best ways to conduct research interviews that delve deep into a subject.

The Feynman method is a method of learning initial developed by the physicist Rich Feynman. It empowers students—and reporters—to develop an accurate mental model of information.

To use this, try to explain a concept the SME just explained to them, in simple terms. If they right you—or if you can’t support the explanation in your mind—ask a clarifying question.

  End up being specific. Home in to the specific gaps in your understanding so you can bridge them.

The particular SME’s answers to your gap-bridging questions will help you understand a topic in its complexity.

six. Keep Questions Open Finished

Your interview queries for subject matter experts should be open ended.

A close-ended question is binary. This means it only has two answers: yes or no.  

Close-ended questions are often a sign that an interviewer has an plan. Rather than being truly available to hearing the SME’s insights, the interviewer simply desires to hear the SME verify their preconceived take.

In comparison, open-ended questions have many probable answers. These questions let SMEs offer explanations with all the metaphors—or reference points—that many accurately represent the point they aim to convey.

For example , consider an interview with an SME who have invented a new, energy-efficient engine. The engine uses a environmentally friendly coolant.

You don’t want to ask the question, “Does the coolant reduce friction? ” That’s a close-ended question. Its ability to illuminate a precise understanding of the coolant’s purpose in the engine is strictly limited.

Instead, try inquiring, “What is the purpose of the coolant? ” or “How does the coolant improve the engine’s energy efficiency? ” These questions open the door for the SME to describe the coolant’s purpose with better specificity.

7. Request “Connecting” Questions (Return Interview to Throughline)

In case your interview veers off subject matter, return to your throughline. How exactly does this tangent relate to your main hook? Or is it coupled to the answers to your thesis questions?

If not, it’s perfectly fine to obtain back on track by asking a follow-up question to 1 of your original thesis queries.  

Alternately, tangents may signal that your interview offers reached a decent endpoint. It may signal that it’s time to wrap up. In that case, end the particular interview on a friendly, expert note.  

Thank your own SME for their time, and let them know how they can reach you if they would like to add anything to the conversation later. Make sure to keep in touch and alert all of them when your content goes reside.

Elevate Your Content with Subject Matter Expert Interviews

Conducting interviews with SMEs is a great way to elevate your articles, no matter where you publish. Particularly, when working with private or Enterprise clients via Constant Articles, the ability to create reported content supported by primary sources can land you a spot on writer teams for high-value clients.

An exclusive profile of a subject matter expert can be the differentiator that piques Business clients’ interest. That’s additional value they can’t obtain from generic content writing services.

Level up your marketplace profile by interviewing SMEs inside your network today.

Want more tips on creating standout articles? Read more from the Constant Content blog .

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The post 7 Smart Methods to Interview a Subject Matter Expert appeared initial on Continuous Content (A Division associated with Moresby Media Inc. ) .

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