Interviewing 101: Talk to a Real, Live Person

I’m not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence here, but a successful case study interview requires actually interviewing someone. I mention this because I’ve been asked to write case studies based on quotes taken from testimonial videos and anecdotal background details provided by the sales team. I’ve also heard people suggest assigning a sales team member to write a case study based on overall knowledge of a deal. Again, no, no, no, no, and no. Case studies are stories, they have narratives, and they need to be firmly routed in the experience of the customer. You can get all of these things by simply talking to one.

Trust me when I say that trying to use second-hand sources makes writing a case study 100 times harder than it needs to be.

Record Every Interview!

I highly recommend recording every case study interview. You (or a colleague who’s listening in) should take notes during the interview, but a recording lets you go back and double check information without needing to bug the customer repeatedly. As I’ll explain later, recordings can also be transcribed, which makes writing far easier than having to work from notes, or even worse, your memory. Finally, a recording is a good insurance policy in the very rare instance you get into a dispute with a customer (or, more likely, his or her legal department).

Be sure to test out your recording technology before the interview, and always tell your customer that you’ll be recording the call. Not only is disclosure a common courtesy, but recording people without their permission is illegal in many states. If the customer gets jittery, tell them that you’re recording the call for informational purposes only and no portion of the recording will be made public.


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