10 Tips For Conducting a Brilliant Interview On Camera
- a long-standing customer
- a new customer
- a high-achieving employee
- a new starter
- a representative from a strategic partner
- a thought leader from within your industry
- a passing visitor to your trade show stand
Once you have a potential guest lined up, you’ll need to start planning the interview questions and the way in which they’ll be delivered.
If the job of interviewer falls on your shoulders and this isn’t a task you’ve had any experience with in the past, we’ve got ten brilliant tips for conducting a great interview on camera.
1. Prep your questions
It might sound like ‘Interviewing 101’, but it’s vital you prepare your questions before setting foot in front of the camera with your interviewee.
Failing to do so will result in a pretty tricky interview where you’ll inevitably run out of runway.
Your questions should aim to draw out the most important answers for your audience, so think about what it is they’d like to learn.
2. Don’t go for “yes” or “no” questions
When conducting an interview for the camera, it goes without saying you want to get as much out of your interviewee as possible.
Ask them questions that can only result in a “yes” or “no” response, and you’ve wasted your time (and the audience’s). Go for real insight!
3. Avoid anything that resembles a script
Interviews are led by two things – your questions and their answers.
That means you can veer off topic when it feels right, but it also means you’re heading for a monotonous disaster if you try and script the interview.
Scripted interviews are obviously contrived and simply don’t draw the best response from the interviewee. Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous.
4. Make the interviewee feel at home
We’ve all seen those interviews where the interviewee looks hugely uncomfortable.
They shuffle around in their chair, utter one-word answers and seem far more intent on making for the exit that providing any quotable commentary.
Chances are, in these instances, the interviewer hasn’t done their job in making the person opposite them feel at home.
Getting the interviewee comfortable should be the first task on your list come the big day. Talk to them about mundane stuff before the camera starts rolling (where are they from? The state of the weather – anything!) and ensure they have their desired drink nearby.
5. Don’t send your questions in advance
Unless you’re interviewing a particularly high profile individual with their own PR team, there shouldn’t be any reason to send out your questions in advance.
There’s nothing wrong with providing a basic idea of what it is you’ll be asking, but providing them with the exact questions you’ll be putting their way on the day will take you back into script land, and we know how perilous that place can be (see tip 3).
6. Ask them to repeat the question
This is a great tip that will really help with the editing process.
When asking certain questions, ask the interviewee to repeat them back before answering. For instance, if you ask “how did it affect your business?”, the interviewee would say “how did it affect my business? Well…”.
This will help with the storytelling aspect of the interview when it comes to editing the footage together.
7. Get your camera positioning right
To make your life easier, adopt the ‘off-camera’ approach. This is where you sit or stand right next to the camera, so that when the interviewee talks to you, they’re looking just off camera.
Trust us – this works far better from a viewing perspective, as you get to see the full face of the person, not their profile.
8. Don’t interrupt
The worst thing you can do as an interviewer is interrupt the person you’re asking questions of.
It happens, unfortunately, and whenever it does, it’s irritating for everyone involved – most notably the interviewee.
As a result, the rest of the chat could be a tense affair. Let the person opposite you talk. Give them space to say what they need to say and don’t be afraid of pauses, gaps or moments of silence. This will give the interview character.
9. Ask for a final comment
The questions don’t have to end once you reach the bottom of the list.
When you’ve asked your last prepared question, go for the ‘final comment’; ask your interviewee if there’s something they were expecting you to ask that wasn’t forthcoming or if they have anything they’d like the audience to hear before you sign off.
10. Keep the camera rolling
Although not always the case, and certainly not a cast-iron guarantee, some of the best parts of an interview often come once everyone thinks its finished.
At this point, both the interviewer and interviewee will probably relax a little and the latter may open up to something else inadvertently.
This is because the ‘pressure’ of the interview has lapsed, and they will feel a sense of relief (in a good way) that they can return to ‘normal’ life.
If you suspect this results in a golden nugget you’d like to include in the finished video, just make sure you ask them for their permission before committing it to the edit.
The best thing about our interviewing tips above is that they won’t cost you a single penny to implement. Each one is simply a technique that anyone can employ.
It goes without saying that to get the best possible quality interview, you’re best off investing in the services of a professional video production company.
If you’re looking to produce more interviews in-house, use our tips above to ensure you end up with not just great interviews, but fabulous documentaries that will add significant value to your content marketing effort.