- Research your interviewee’s background and opinions – a little Googling goes a long way. Read other interviews, published works and follow them on social.
- Write your questions in advance, thinking of what you want to get out of the interview. Start at the end: if there is an ideal soundbite in mind, think of the question that might tease it out.
- Structure your questions logically: the questions should flow from one another.
- Share your questions in advance to ensure your interviewee is comfortable and has time to consider their answers.
- A pre-interview chat is always a good idea, to get a sense of how things will go and put you both at ease.
- Record the interview if possible so you can avoid taking notes and be engaged inthe conversation, with eye contact.
- Make sure there is no background noise and consider the composition/background (no flowers coming out of heads!). It’s also a good idea to have your questions written up on cards so you don’t hear paper rustling.
- Warm up your interviewee first with some general chat. Reassure them that you can edit the video/reword the quotes afterwards, so they don’t have to worry about any stumbles.
- Be interested! Active listening is key (smile, nod) and try to reflect where you can – ‘it was interesting to hear you talk about X, can you tell me a bit more about that?’.
- At the end, always ask if there is anything else they would like to add that you haven’t covered, then pause to give them time to think.
If you’re writing up your interview, spend time thinking about the headline, sub-headings and any pull quotes. You can edit your quotes for grammar or impact as long as you send them to the interviewee to sense check.
- You don’t have to include everything when editing or writing up – ditch the dull stuff and keep the juicy bits.
- What is your angle? It’s not an autobiography and it doesn’t have to be chronological, consider how will you drive audience engagement.
- Spend time thinking about your headline, sub-headings and any pull quotes. You can edit your quotes for grammar or impact as long as you send them to the interview to sense check.
- End on a punch. The most important sentences are your first and last so spend time making them stand out.
- Once you’re finished editing, go back to your copy/content with fresh eyes wearing an audience ‘hat’ to make sure it all still makes sense.
In times like these, home interviews are the norm, see below Sarah’s top tips for home recording:
- Consider your surroundings: find somewhere quiet, inspect the lighting (ideally sit with a window in front of you) and have a tidy background.
- Maintain a similar distance from the recording device at all times – this helps avoid varying speech volumes.
- Consider pace – if someone is speaking really quickly ask them to take a moment and slow down responses.
- Look directly at the camera lens (rather than the other person or your own image).
- If there is an interruption that stops the flow of the interviewee’s response, take a moment before repeating the question so they can start the answer again.
For more top tips and insight into Brand journalism, contact our Head of Content Sarah Miles at email@example.com