Conducting an interview is a skill that takes years to master. I consider it one of the most important skills I’ve developed over 12 years in this business.
Here are a 7 tips that will help you get the best results when you are interviewing someone for your nonprofit video.
#1 Be what you want.
Probably the most important thing you can do when you are interviewing is to lead by example. If you want your interviewee to be relaxed and comfortable, make sure you speak in a relaxed and comfortable way.
#2 Give them some coaching.
Once the lights are on and you are both sitting down, give them a little coaching on how to answer the questions. This will give you a chance to demonstrate how you want them to speak, will give them a chance to get used to the lights and cameras, and will give them a bit of valuable information.
#3 Only ask one question at a time.
If you ask multiple questions at a time it will confuse them and encourage them to give you long winded answers that will be harder for you to use in the video.
#4 Have a list of questions, but don’t use it.
You should always be prepared with a paper that has their name and the questions you want to ask. But once you start talking, you should be flexible enough to make follow-up questions that relate to what they just said and go with the flow.
I usually ask the first question and don’t look back at the paper until the very end to make sure I didn’t miss anything I was planning on.
#5 Go for the story.
Most nonprofits are built around great stories. You are changing peoples lives! When you write your interview questions, you should ask questions that reveal their story. Instead of asking who, what, or how, ask “why?”
#6 Don’t be afraid of silence.
Sometime they will give you a short answer that didn’t address what you were asking. Or you may sense they are holding back to hide their emotions. This would be a great time for an awkward silence. Just keep looking at them and count to 5 in your head. I’ve gotten some of my best answers by just not speaking and waiting for them to really open up. (And yes, I learned that from Barbara Walters!)
#7 Keep it loose.
Occasionally you will get someone who is so nervous about the lights and cameras they freeze. If your interviewee gets stuck on a question, don’t let them hang frozen for too long. If you just sit there they will begin to get more and more embarrassed and the interview will fail. After a few moments of freezing, I like to move on to the next question and come back to the one they froze on if we need to at the end.
So there you are. Good luck with your interview!