Interview Basics – Part 1 – Getting Ready

Charlton Heston
Yes, that is Charlton Heston being interviewed. By a very young Victoria Fenner

Interviews are building blocks for every kind of communication project. Whether you’re doing an interview for a podcast, a video or as the basis for a text article, the principles are the same.

The more prepared you are, the stronger your interview will be. Do research before turning on the camera or microphone. It will save hours of editing and writing time if you only get the information you need. And you will impressed your guest with your ability to focus the conversation.

Here are a few tips:

a) Know WHY you’re doing the interview. This is also known as “focusing” your interview. What exactly do you need to know from the person you’re interviewing? The clearer you are about why YOU think this is an important subject, the clearer it will be for your listeners.

b) Do a Pre-interview – Call your prospective interviewees on the phone before showing up to film or recording. Do they know their subject? Are they good talkers? Can they talk about their subject in a way that ordinary people can understand? Are they available when you need them? If yes, book them for an interview. If not, thank them for the useful information and look for another guest.

c) Set the time and location for your interview – Where and when will you do the interview? If it’s an audio interview you will want to think about background sound. If it’s a video interview, you have to think about both the visual background and the sound background.

d) PLAN your on air questions in advance. Every good interview has a beginning, middle and end. By planning your questions in advance, you won’t have to make it up on the spot. If your interviewee is a good talker, you will need less questions. Figure on six questions for a ten minute interview if your guest is reasonably verbose.

There are only six questions in every interview that really matter: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

Next time: Doing the interview

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