_a few handy pointers for interviewing writers



Some pointers:- - People in interviews are often incredibly nervous. The longer you can spend with 'em, if they look promising, the better. - Ask them in advance, if there's time, to go through thoroughly a copy of the mag and make a detailed criticism (negative things are always much more useful & worth hearing than positive things: stop 'em talking positive, make 'em talk critical) - They should do more than half of the talking (!) -

Don't interview a lot of people. I'd say two or three at most; more than that and you get all dithery, and besides you start confusing 'em -

Have someone you can delegate sending out a standard "Thanks but no thanks" letter. It's vital that it happens; equally, it's vital that you don't waste your time doing it -

Things to look out for:
(i) supporting evidence for a "burning desire to be in mags" (eg, they actually read 'em and know something about 'em; they have applied elsewhere; they've participated in college mags or as freelance to mags - or have at least submitted stuff);

(ii) evidence of proactivity. If they have only applied to you, have no idea what they want to do with their life and have done nothing since leaving college, they may be too inert to be of use to you - Get lots of writing out of them. If poss, sit 'em in the office for a couple of hours & get 'em writing "live". It can be quite instructive/depressing, believe me! - A personal view: Don't, as a rule, pay a lot. You'll always get more (and esp. in your current situation) from hungry youngsters who'll sweat blood & go to the ends of the earth for you, rather than experienced folk who've seen it all before and are getting set in their ways.


A few useful questions

Give me the full, interactive, multimedia, multitasking version of your CV [ie, tell me what you've done since GCSE; useful to hear it live, rather than merely on paper]

Why did you do those subjects at A-level/uni?

What's your favourite word?

What's wrong with the magazine?

What magazines do you read?

What music/films do you like?

Do you read a newspaper?

What about telly?

What salary are you on/would you work for? [it's always worth doing this: I've gone to a lot of trouble with people who then later turn out to have been outside my price bracket all along]