People are constantly preparing for interviews, it is an unnatural process to go through for many people who are promoting work. They may have a blog they want to promote, a book, a brand or anything else that can make them more successful. However, it is rare that there is help for the person on the other side of the table. The interviewer. These 5 tips will greatly help an interviewer ask the right questions and make an interview smooth and informative.
This may be cliche, but the key for an interview, no matter the side of the table, is preparation. For the interviewer, this means understanding your interviewee and what your audience wants to learn from him or her. You should contact your interviewee a few days before the show and learn more about what kind of person you will be working with. If they have a certain topic they are going to push for, if they are talkative, and what new things they are working on. This can help you later on to predict what will happen and how to steer the interview effectively. Finally, make sure you double check everything for the day of the interview. This means testing out your equipment, making sure the interviewee is on his or her way, preparing the space and sound levels to deliver a distraction free interview.
2. Interview Technique
There are three main ways of answering questions. The non-directive interview, directed and semi-directed. Each one is designed for a different type of person and goals.
Non-directive- This style is designed to get a lot of information from your interviewee. It doesn’t use questions, but instead uses statements such as, “Tell me about the role of intelligence agencies in the 21st century” This allows the interviewee to greatly expand on knowledge and make points along the way. As points are made, you can take notes and ask more questions about these points.
Directed- This is basically asking open-ended questions. This way you can direct the interview more closely to steer it in a direction for a specific audience. An example would be “Who is most responsible for the security of Europe?” This controls the interview so that you won’t end up on tangents that might make your audience change the channel.
Semi-directed- I recommend this method because it will allow the interviewer to expand on what they know while still making it relevant for the audience. You should start out with a directed question that is in your audience’s interest, and then start alternating with other questions that can allow the interviewee to expand much more in those areas. As you take notes, you can follow up and ask for more detail in the most interesting areas.
3. The First Question
Timing can be everything in an broadcast interview. Your first question can be an easy to answer warm up question that puts the interviewee at ease. It allows them to calm down a bit, and give a good answer that they feel comfortable with. Then slowly you can start asking more difficult questions as they start understanding your interview style and intent. On the other hand, if you want to catch them off guard, you can start with a difficult question and keep them nervous the whole time.
Your first question sets the tone. However, you need to keep your interview structured to keep it interesting. Ask all of the most interesting questions as soon as you can. This keeps the audience interested and keeps them from leaving, it is also usually enjoyable for the interviewee because it will be what they know most about. If there is a problem with the broadcasts, or if the audience starts leaving towards the end, they will have heard the best questions. It would be terrible to run out of time, and not have gotten to ask some of the best questions you could have.
5. Don’t Lose Control
One of the worst common things that can happen during and interview, is the interviewee hijacking it. An example would be if the interviewee responds “That’s interesting, but what really is important is ….” or “Yes, I agree, but what we should really be talking about is…”. This means the interviewee is just using your show as a platform to announce whatever he or she wants and this translates into a boring interview. You have to be polite but firm and continue asking the question that you want the answer to. If it gets particularly bad, it isn’t in poor taste to politely point out that the question hasn’t been answered. This exposes the interviewee and lets him or her know that they won’t get away with it.
These are a few tips that will really help you out with making sure everything is prepared, knowing what answers to ask, and how to ask them. Interviews are difficult for everyone, but with more practice, and keeping these key factors in mind, you can have a smooth entertaining interview that your audience will love.