Her in-depth knowledge of the entertainment industry helps her identify subjects whose work justifies coverage.
“I screen a lot of TV shows ahead of time so I can see what, in my determination, is going to be interesting,” she said. She also avoids getting swayed by an eager publicist or coverage in other outlets. “I know to stay in my lane, to do the things that have resonance for me.”
Michele “Wojo” Wojciechowski, an award-winning freelance writer who’s done Q&As for Parade, NextAvenue, and others, finds that people who’ve done interviews before tend to be good subjects for her. “They either speak concisely or they are okay that you’re going to have to edit them when they go a bit off-topic,” she said.
Don’t just ask about the topic at hand
Subjects who do a lot of media interviews get asked the same questions over and over again. As a result, they often have a plethora of canned responses. With a profile or a feature article, you could bring in other details to enliven the story and detract from boring quotes, but a Q&A requires interesting responses.
Liebman elicits interesting material by researching her subject’s lives outside of their normal work, which helps “make them more dimensional than just the project they’re working on,” she said.
For instance, you could ask about a charity they’re passionate about, or their reaction to current events. “The trick is to be curious,” Liebman said. “It gives you a license to ask whatever you want.”