5 tips for a successful expert interview

Whenever a company, working on a project, requires valuable insights it may consider reaching out to expert networks such as RightAngle. We help the client find the right experts and arrange interviews with them.

Although it may appear easier for the client to simply volley the questions on their list one after another at an expert, interviewing is nevertheless a skill that requires much more planning and thought.

An effective interviewer employs an organized and rigorous approach to each conversation. This allows them to improve their market expertise and enables sound judgments to be made based on unbiased information.

We, the RightAngle expert network team, have put together a list of five tips that can help get the most out of an interview with a subject matter expert.

1. Prior to the interview

Always have a clear goal in mind

Spend some time going through the secondary research resources that you have at hand (market studies, competition intelligence and/or due diligence reports) to find out more about the particular field of expertise of a potential candidate.

This ensures you have a better understanding of the industry that will serve as a foundation to guide the interview.

As soon as you have gained a better understanding of the type of intelligence you require, create a more concrete list of insights under different subject headings.

  • Keep in mind: gathering data from secondary research sources will only cover a fraction of the content of your interview. Clients often have their own established process and may have specific questions or an entire questionnaire that needs to be completed.

Determine the most crucial questions to ask experts

Inform the expert networks about these questions and ensure that each expert writes whether or not they can answer them.

2. Start of the interview

Keep your experts’ profile close

There are several techniques for establishing trust and creating a welcoming climate for the discussion such as acknowledging the expert’s authority.

The simplest technique, however, is to study the expert’s profile prior to the interview and avoid any unnecessary questions.

Breaking the ice with an expert increases the chances of having a productive conversation and shows your respect for them while also saving you time by eliminating phrases such as:

“Can you provide a brief background of your experience in this industry?”

and alternatively stating:

“You were selected because your experience within the […] industry is impressive, and this is exactly the sector we want to discuss with you.”

In the first few minutes of the call, evaluate the fit

Before you ask any detailed questions, make sure the expert is a good fit for your objectives.

The expert could have been pre-vetted using numerous questions and profile analyses, yet there’s still a chance, although rather small, that they will not be able to provide all of the answers you require.

Maintain complete transparency with the expert networks. Inform them of everything you require and let them know when an expert is not suitable for the project. This can save you a lot of time.

3. Carrying out the interview

Maintain objectivity in your questioning

Give heed to the questions you ask to eliminate any possible bias in the answers you get. Don’t make any assumptions and ask broader questions.

For example, instead of asking “Do you think the clients’ purchases are mainly driven by price or by the product’s quality?”

It’s better to be impartial and ask, “Can you expound on the main consumer purchasing criteria and suggest which of these is more important?”

When you obtain unexpected information, go further

The major value-limiter of gaining the most out of an interview is missing the chance to go further. When offered a peek of anything indicating new and unexpected market information, take the opportunity to get unparalleled valuable information.

In case the expert lacs the required insights, you may simply hang up, which will save time for both of you.

4. Alter the questioning style to obtain more data-driven answers

Common questions will often be discussed in various interviews and it is the information that you receive regarding the same topic that will populate your dataset. It is therefore critical that you obtain the right figures.

Let’s say the expert gives an answer such as, “The industry grew by 5%”. This may not be sufficient data to provide the intel you’re looking for.

It is important to be more detailed in your line of questioning to ensure that you understand whether the expert is referring to annual growth or an average annual increase and during exactly which years.

  • Tip: If possible, ask the expert about the source of their answer. Perhaps there is a valuable (public) source of information that you did not discover during your secondary investigation.

5. End of the interview

At the end of the interview, reserve at least five minutes to ask open-ended questions so the expert can offer additional information. “Were there any other questions I should have asked?” is a smart way to end an interview.

After the interview with the expert ask the expert network to provide a recording or transcript of your call. It is much more productive to work with a transcript than taking notes during the interview instead of focusing on the conversation itself.

  • Note that RightAngle provides free transcripts for all calls.

We hope you have found these extensive tips useful! RightAngle can help you to identify the professionals to interview for your next project if you need support. Feel free to contact and tell us who you’re hoping to connect with and we’ll conduct a search in just 24 hours to find just the right subject matter expert for you.

Suggested reading:

Why are expert networks important? (Q&A)

Why Choose RightAngle?

RightAngle services – thinking beyond the customary approach

Share to

admin5 tips for a successful expert interview