5 things (or more) I’ve learnt from…


A couple of weeks ago, I went on a course called Starting Out as a Freelance Writer. It was run by the Mumsnet Academy and taught by Joanna Moorhead.

Joanna is a freelance journalist who writes about parenting, women’s issues and health. She writes primarily for The Guardian newspaper however has also written for other major newspapers like The Independent and Observer and publications such as Family Circle and Prima. With over 20 years experience in the field of journalism, she was certainly qualified to take the workshop that ran for 2 days.

The class was structured around how to get a piece of writing published and covered the end to end process of freelance journalism; from how to pitch an idea to an editor to then writing and researching the article. Her workshops obviously work as previous students with no prior professional writing experience have been published in 2 major newspapers, The Telegraph and The Guardian so far. This impressed me from the start, but it was her easy going approach, encouraging words and passion for her work that left me with the overall feeling that being published could be achieved by anyone that had the drive and want.

So today, I thought I’d share with you the tips that we learnt on interview techniques. Joanna provided us with tips on how to interview someone from a journalists perspective, however I thought that the tips could also be of interest for a blogger that might want to interview an artist or designer or even an Interior Designer who might be meeting a potential client for the first time. So here are the tips:


  • Prepare a list of questions to take to the interview.
  • Dress appropriately, you want to ensure that your interviewee is relaxed.


  • Start off by thinking this person has something fascinating to say and understand that your job is to listen.
  • Ensure that they feel as comfortable as possible by being comfortable yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand. It’s more important to ensure that you get what they are trying to tell you than looking foolish.
  • An interview is like a brief but close friendship and they need to be confident that they can trust you.
  • Don’t be afraid of silences, that’s when they say the most interesting things.
  • Don’t try to impress or dazzle your interviewee with your knowledge or story. They are the star and you should make them feel so.


  • Ensure you reflect back your understanding to the interviewee to make sure you are both on the same page.
  • Relay your gratitude for the opportunity to interview them.

Ok, so it was more than 5 things this week. But I thought that the information was too valuable to not share with you. So what do you think? Have you interviewed someone before? Is there anything else you would add to these tips? I’d love to know. If you are interested in attending her course, Joanna also runs a 1 day workshop in West Dean College on Freelance Writing.

Have a lovely weekend! It’s Chinese New Year on Sunday so I’ll be out with family and friends stuffing myself with food and enjoying the festivities. Till Monday. xD

Image Source: MyOpera.com


6 responses to “5 things (or more) I’ve learnt from…

  • secretgardenhome

    Hi Doris, Thanks for sharing.
    Part of my day job is interviewing people (qualitative interviews and focus groups), so I can confirm your hints& tips cover most key points a good interviewer needs to be aware of.
    I would say active listening is crucial. Don’t assume that you know what your interviewee will think and say; Give them the opportunity to say what they think first, and then feel free to probe them with your own theories, beliefs and hypotheses.
    Another useful tip is to use open questions such as: Who? What? Why? When? Where? How? instead of limiting: Are…? Is…? Do…? Did…?
    Also, in order to build a rapport with your interviewee, try to paraphrase what they say: It sounds as if…? Are you saying…? It feels like…?
    If you come across a man of few words, don’t be afraid to prompt and ask them to tell you MORE. And, as you mentioned, a moment of silence, tends to work as well. 🙂

    Bests and have a lovely weekend. Happy Chinese New Year!


  • Lauren

    Enjoyed reading these points on interviewing. I think the scariest part for me is asking for the interview. I love the idea of taking a freelance writing class, Im totally going to sign up for one. Great for bloggers! Have a great weekend!

    • interiornovice

      Hi Lauren, yes I’d have to agree that the asking for the interview is hard. I get really nervous so haven’t had the confidence to actually do one for the blog yet, but hopefully I’ll sum up the courage on day. The freelance writing course was great! You should go for it and report back on how you went. xD

  • tina

    Happy Chinese New Year. Sorry we won’t meet at the meetup but hope you will come on the 23rd…

    The writing course sounds fascinationg, I’ve taken a few over the years but this one sounds fantatstic.

    I do interview people and suppose have done it for many years, also in y profession. i think her tips are very thorough.

    Foremost you neeed to make the interviewee feel at ease and relaxed. I find everything flows after that! Listening is very important, as well as being prepared and knowing what direction you want to take the interview.

    Thank you for sharing. Very interesting x

    • interiornovice

      Hi Tina, Joanna really was an inspiring teacher. I’m glad that you liked the post and thanks for the feedback. I finally worked out how to angle my interviews for the blog which is going to be a new series. So watch this space. I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you today. But I’ll be at the Meet the Blogger London event so we’ll meet then I hope. xD

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