Details are essential to any type of reporting, but even more important when it comes to profile writing. This is something I’ve struggled with and have to constantly remind myself in interviews.
I bring up the topic of details because I went through my profile rough drafts with Scott yesterday. After almost every paragraph, Scott had written comments along the lines of “Give me examples” or “Need more details.” In my head, I thought there were enough details in the story. I think that’s because I have gotten to know the candidates on a personal level, but the problem is the reader doesn’t know the candidates like I do. People actually want things that don’t stand out to me as necessary to put in the story.
It’s details such as what types of books are on the guy’s bookshelf at home, what he specifically learned in previous job experiences and details as to how the person was feeling at a particular teaching moments in their childhood. When I wrote the first drafts, these details didn’t stand out to me, but now I know they’re probably the most important parts of the story.
Including seemingly minor details like these give the profile its personality. They provide depth to the person and can let the reader know the candidate without even meeting them in person. In some cases I had these details in m notes and in other cases more questions needed to be asked. This is where interviewing experience and skills come in handy. It takes experience and a self-awareness to think about asking these detailed questions — something I’ve been trying to get better at but still need the practice.
Before I start an interview, I kind of catch my breath and look around me – at the room, at the person. These details set the scene. Even the way a person cocks his head can be telling. It’s something that doesn’t come naturally to me, but as with most things – it’s an acquired taste.