An interview is a dialogue between two or more people in which one of them, the interviewer, asks questions to the other(s), the interviewee(s). Recorded interviews are usually quite short and contain a lot of information in a very short time span.
- General instructions
- Conducting an interview
- The set-up
1. General instructions
- Carefully choose your position (illustrated with sketch)
- Calculate everything that could possibly happen during the interview (doors that can open, background noises, changing lights, etc)
- Focus on the person
- Change the frame during your questions and not during the answers
- Record the interviewer's questions after the interview
- Keep the camera at the eye level of the interviewee(s)
2. Conducting an interview
- Research your subject, make sure that you are well-informed in advance about the person you are interviewing and the topics that will be discussed.
- Consider two or three questions that you want to ask. Never read from your notes during the interview, but check your notes before the interview.
- Instead of carrying out an interview, try to conduct a normal conversation. Interaction with the interviewee is important: show an interest in the answers you receive and respond to them.
- Listen to the answers, make sure they are clear and complete. Listen to what is said but also what is not said, because this provides the content of your next question.
- Do not be afraid of silence. Especially be quiet after a surprising answer, as most people will try to fill this silence themselves and rephrase their response and clarify it in such a way that you never would achieve by asking a new question.
- Lead the interview in such a way that you receive the answers you wanted.
- Start an interview with comfortable, general questions and save the hard questions for later. Although, if you do not have much time, you may need to address the key issues from the start.
- Do not answer your own questions and avoid questions in which the answer is already intertwined; let the interviewee provide the answer.
- Ask short and targeted questions. Avoid lengthy questions or asking multiple questions at the same time.
- Ask questions that will provide you with a specific, short answer. If you have a yes / no question, request that the interviewee clarifies his/her answer with the "why" or "how" questions.
- Ask for a clear explanation of technical terms and jargon.
- Always ask at the end of the interview if there is anything that the interviewee would like to add to the interview; the commentary following this could provide you with useful insights.
3. The set-up
For standing interviews, for example where a news reporter interviews a union spokesman, the following is important:
- Position the camera about 30 degrees to the left or the right of the interviewee (so not frontal)
- Be conscious of the physical setting of the interview, the surroundings and the interviewee.
- For an interview in which a news reporter first speaks to the camera and then introduces his/her guest beside him, the interviewer is standing next to the interview guest to establish an open, interested attitude and to give the guest the level of attention needed. The interviewer and interviewee often stand shoulder-to-shoulder in two-shots, and the interviewer backs away and to the side of the camera as the camera zooms in to the interviewee. This is to eliminate awkward or uncomfortable spacing during the interview as the camera magnifies the distance between the persons in front of it. This is why interviewers often stand closer to interviewees on camera than off camera.
- Hold the microphone and place the camera in as unobtrusive a position as possible.
- Tell your interview guest in advance how long the interview will take.
- If your interview time is limited, only ask one or two of the most interesting and key questions.
- Determine in advance how the interview will end.
- Change the pitch of your voice. Nothing bores the audience as much as a dull and monotone voice. If you lower your pitch or speaking volume, you can foster an apparent intimacy with the audience and your pitch will tend to vary and follow natural, conversational patterns.
- Your voice should be expressive and lively. Varying the pitch of your voice will help along with vocal expression, but your speaking rate should be slow enough to make words and ideas easily understood but fast enough to keep the audience's interest.
- Make sure you demonstrate good enunciation and pronounciation.
- Don't forget to hold the microphone in front of the interviewee once you have asked your question, and don't move it around.
- Stand up straight; while on camera, angle or turn your body slightly toward the person you are interviewing.
- Keep your hands at your sides unless gesturing to emphasize a point. Any gestures should look natural and be motivated by story content. You can nod and smile to encourage the interviewee.
For possible set-ups of seated interviews, see http://www.flolight.com/howtouselights