Becoming a great interviewer is a matter of practice. Following this guide will equip you with the tools you need to host a successful interview!
For starters, you have to make the subject comfortable so they open up to you. You can do this by asking them casual questions like: “How is your day going?”, Or “Can you tell me a little about yourself?” Then you can start building on those questions to gain a deeper understanding about the person you’re interviewing. Making steady eye contact is a big part of keeping their attention. It lets them know you are listening and engaged with what they have to say. You want to have a good flow throughout the interview. You can accomplish this by asking them questions based on their responses. This will push them to provide more thorough responses. Actively listening throughout the interview is key for pinpointing where to interject and inquire further. Doing so will enable you to access the rich material that will become very useful when editing. If you are videotaping the interview, make sure the subject directly responds to the question in their answer. If they start to get off topic, or their answer becomes scattered, simply ask a “leading” question that will prompt them to concisely summarize their response.
An interviewer must accommodate everyone and change his/her style accordingly. Using the same style or technique for everyone will result in a dull interview that fails to extract quality material. Just like you would adjust how you speak to an adult as opposed to a child, you should do the same in an interview. Think of an interview as a normal conversation, except in a very formal and one-sided context. It is like a game where you are trying to extract every detail of part of somebody’s life by getting them to feel comfortable and expand as much as possible. Most people love to talk about themselves, so if you find that they are giving you short and incomplete responses then you must be doing something wrong. Every lock requires a different key! Finding its shape will grant you access to discover what they have in store. Interviewees that are shy can be thought of as a lock with a deadbolt. They require more than one approach to get into. The morale of this analogy is that you should never give up because an interviewee is putting up a tough front. Sometimes shy people are the ones with the best info!
Rule of thumb: when you are interviewing children, it is best to keep it simple. Asking questions along the lines of “what is your favorite..?” will set the stage and not overwhelm the child. When speaking to teenagers/adults you can start to become more complex and ask specific questions. The primary goal of interviewing them is to attain detailed responses that will accurately paint a picture of what they are describing. With adults, you can expect to find the most concrete data that will allow you to tie your video together. Remember, the adults are typically the overseers of your interview topic and should be prompted to elaborate on every detail. Doing this will allow your audience to grasp a full understanding and start making connections.
Becoming a proficient interviewer takes time and effort. If you practice with this guide and stick with it, you will inevitably become a master at it. Do not get frustrated if you freeze up during an interview. Simply, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and ask a question.