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Expectations & Etiquette for Interviewees

If you’re reading this post, I probably sent you a link because I want to ask you some questions for an article. The interviewing process can be weird if you’re not used to it, so this is intended as a straightforward guide. Don’t worry, it’s short!

  1. Instead of relying on the various definitions of terms like “off the record” and “on background”, I prefer to define how I’m allowed to quote you in concrete terms. Can I use your name? Mention where you work? Etc. Tell me what you’re comfortable with! If you don’t specify that you want to stay anonymous, I will assume that your comments are fully public.
  2. I may ask about subjects that don’t usually come up in polite conversation. For example: “How much money do you make?” Some questions might even feel adversarial. For example: “People have accused you of XYZ. What is your response?” You are free to refuse to answer any questions, or to answer partially. It doesn’t mean that I won’t bring up those issues in whatever I write, but it’s totally fine for you to set limits on what you will talk about.
  3. I encourage you to make your own recording of any verbal conversation we have, and to keep transcripts of our textual communications. (This is a good interviewee habit in general! Archive those emails!)
  4. You can’t approve the final article before it’s published. However, if I edit your quotes for readability, I may ask you to approve the revised text, to make sure I’ve preserved your meaning. Those edits will always be disclosed to the readers.

The four items above are based on the industry’s standards. If there’s anything else I should add to this post, email and let me know. Thanks!

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