Love ’em or hate ’em. Interviews are rich with content and as versatile as heck.
I’ve turned interviews into a Q & A piece, inserted quotes to support a bigger story and picked soundbites for my social media sites. Got an eye for video? The interview gets spliced into a video story. If you’re creating for iTunes, convert the audio track into a podcast.
In fact, I’d recommend doing all of the above whenever you have an interview.
But I’m jumping ahead of myself.
After all, you still need to interview the person.
Here’s how you can prepare and conduct an interview session.
- A printed set of interview questions, preferably on 1 sheet of paper.
- Digital camera to take photos and videos
- Tripod that can extend up to 6ft
- MP3 player/recorder (although not necessary if you’re taking it on video)
Before the interview
- Research your subject
- What interests them
- What do they support
- Their collaborations
- Public sentiment about them
Just get as much information as you can. It’ll help when you’re developing the interview questions, notes and angle.
- Write down all your questions
I brainstorm my questions first. Just write everything down – don’t edit yet. Just come up with as many open-ended questions as you can. Then group similarly-themed questions together.
I like to lead with the “hows” and “whats” to create context before going into the “whys” to get reasons.
Here’s an example:
Name: Mr Interviewee
Years in business:
1. With Mr ABC…
a. How did you come to collaborate with Mr ABC?
b. Why work with him? …
1. There’s been an increase in the comedy shows in SG over last few years.
a. Why do you think so?
b. Comedy can be the mirror that shows up the truth. Do you think it’s happening in Singapore?…
- Check your equipment
It’s embarrassing and time-wasting to turn up with a flat battery or not knowing how your brand new camera works. Make sure you know how to work it!
During the interview
- Smile a lot and have plenty of eye contact
Put them at ease. It’ll make it easier for your interviewees to tell you their deepest, darkest secrets…err stories. That’s why you’re there, right?
- Start with easy questions
It’s like making small talk at parties. It could be “Tell us your full name, and designation.” These questions get them used to talking and you can use the time to adjust your recording devices.
- Converse, don’t interrogate
Most interviews that you read in magazines aren’t conducted that way. We have a conversation. Don’t take over the interview; remember it’s all about the interviewee. Listen more than you input.
- Make notes
They said something interesting? Jot down a word to jog your memory when you’re going back to it. Don’t break the flow by spending your time writing.
- It’s OK to let it go off topic.
Off topic conversations usually reveal a great deal about the interviewee. You can bring it back with one of your prepped questions when it seems to have dried up.
- Be silent to get more information
It’s just human behaviour to want to fill up the silence. Keep quiet for a few seconds after their last statement. They’ll usually explain or elaborate themselves. This usually gets me interesting sound bites.
- Repeat the last words as a question
It’s not really a question. But they’ll see it as a question and elaborate upon it without much prompting.
- Take it easy. Relax, don’t stress
It’s just talk after all. Oh yes, thank them for the interview.
After the Interview
Transcribe your interview as soon as you can. It’ll help you decide how you’d want to use and present the information. Like so…
My interview with Kumar, a comedian. More at Skybe077
A day, a tip | 100 days, 100 useful content tips