In the world of video production, interviews are the most common type of video. But retrieving good useable content from an interview is not as easy as it seems. Here are a few tips for getting the best content from your interviews:
1. Make Your Subject Comfortable – Answer any questions they may have, tell them how this is gonna work, tell them it’s ok to mess up and just start their sentence over, joke with them, compliment them, etc. The more comfy they are, the more natural they’ll be.
2. Know What You’re After – Before you sit down to talk, you should have a good idea of what it is you want from them. This doesn’t mean that you know everything they’re going to say. In fact, you shouldn’t. But you should know the basic message or storyline you’re after so you can move the conversation in that direction.
3. Prepare Questions Ahead of Time – I have made the mistake of “winging it” with the questions and not writing them down. This leaves cracks and holes in the answers that you can avoid by just writing down the questions before you arrive.
4. Ask Unprepared Probing Questions – In addition to your written questions, you should come up with additional probing questions depending on their answers. Sometimes there’s a gold nugget sound bite hiding behind an answer that requires one additional question to reveal itself.
5. Make Them Restate their Answer – Sometimes a person gives a good answer that is too long and poorly worded. Look out for those answers that need to be restated. Answering questions can sometimes be a “thinking out loud” process, and restating the answer is much easier for the subject once they’ve gathered their thoughts.
6. Be Genuinely Curious – The best interviewers have a curious nature about them. They’re interested. They want to know what happened, how you felt, why you did that, etc. It’s a unique opportunity to sit down and ask somebody their story. Dig into it and learn something. Put yourself in their shoes and ask questions from that vantage point. Interviewees give good answers to interviewers who seem genuinely interested.
That’s my list. Would you add any others?