We have just improved our article from 2013.

Interviews with subject matter experts or key people in an organization are always a practical and effective method of obtaining information.

You spotted an expert on Twitter or through a scientific article ... why not call him?

To guide your decision-making, you would like to know the challenges, the issues of organizations similar to yours. If you could know what solutions they have implemented, you would be better equipped to advance your organization. Why not make a few calls?

Here are some tips for getting positive responses and great interviews.

Request an interview by phone or email

It's best to let people know you want to talk to them to make sure they have time for you. Whether you leave a phone message or send an email, keep it short. Indicate the purpose of the interview requested, the expected duration and the number of questions you have.

Thank your interlocutor in advance.

Know precisely what information you need

Prepare your questions. Open questions will allow you to get more information. Think about the logic of your statements. Learn the meaning of terms you don't know.
Test your interview outline with an organization in the field, but not essential to your study.

Respect the scheduled time

Use a timer to make sure you don't go over time. Some people will give you a lot of information. Three quarters of the time you have to adjust. It is up to you to judge whether it is preferable to request more time from your interlocutor, to skip a few questions, ask others by email, etc.

Whatever you decide, it is important to inform your interlocutor well and to respect his choice.

Seek references or other sources of information

Get references, suggestions from people to talk to, that's a great way to conclude an interview. People network and can refer you to important people. Be sure to ask if you can tell your new source who is referring you.

Put the finishing touches, by thanking your interlocutor warmly for his expertise and his time.


Sometimes interviewees ask for the results of your interviews. Although it is not always possible to deliver all of the results, it is desirable to prepare a short summary and send it to participants, if possible.

Whether or not you can report the results, take the time to do a quick follow-up by email. A few days later, send a thank you note.

Politeness is your best tool for a rewarding interview and to guarantee reliable collaborators or sources of information.