The “Chess” Interview Strategy
To be clear, I don’t believe in “transactional” interviews. It’s not in service of you, your guests, or your listeners to do anything via quid pro quo, such as “interview swaps” or using your podcast to get access to somebody for a purpose other than an interview.
But sometimes you can’t always get the interview you want right now. And sometimes the interview you can get right now will open a door to get the interview you want in the future.
For example, it’s very common for top authors, musicians, and actors to do short, junket-style interviews, to reach as many people through as many different media outlets within a short period. And when these happen, you can get somebody for maybe 10-20 minutes that you wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.
Even if you like long form, deep-dive interviews, and even if you don’t normally do shorter, more shallow ones, it may be worth your time to look into finding a place for shorter content within your normal episodes, because this can open the door to the interview you want in the future … assuming the guest has a good experience with you.
I always have a mic and recorder on me, even if it’s just my phone. You never know when you’ll run into somebody on the street, on a plane, or somewhere else when you’re going about daily life.
For example, while sorting through the containers of the meal I’d just had at Whole Foods and trying to make sure everything was in the appropriate bin for recycling, I asked for advice from the guy next to me, who was doing the same thing … then looked up to see it was Robert Plant.
We had a good laugh over the confusion.
A few months later, at that same store, I ran into Steven Tyler … literally. He was pushing the door of the men’s room as I opened it, resulting in the vertical equivalent of me pulling the chair out from under him.
It was a moment, and we had a good laugh as I stepped out of his way to let him through.
Both were opportunities where I could have asked for an interview, or even pulled out my phone and gotten a quick answer to a single question or liner.
But sometimes the best moments are the personal ones. And sometimes the best way to play chess is to wait to make a big move.
Keep focused on what you want, but be present for what you can get now.