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  • toby wray

Video Tips for Marketeers #9 Interview Techniques


Do You Interview Someone Well?

Interviewing someone is a very personal skill, one that requires good communication skills and understanding of people and their points of view as well as the factual approach of a journalist. You also have to know about filming and what your interview needs to have sound and image that will cut together well. All of this and you have to think of it while listening to someone else!

Get a release form

First you have to get them to sign a document stating they are happy for you to use their image and words for your film, get it before the interview so you don’t waste time chasing it a week later or find out they’ve changed their mind! It happens a lot.

Put your interviewee at ease

The best way to get the information that you want is for you both to be relaxed. Have a joke, reassure them about their appearance, the time, how you will edit the material you get. Don’t use language they won’t understand, don’t shout “action” and “cut” as if it were a film set. Ease them into the recording process gently, let the camera roll while you talk to them about their journey. If you have one you may want to turn off the red record light on your camera if you think it will make your subject nervous.

Know your questions

Work out what you need from the interview and how your questions will get that. It may be possible to go over the questions just beforehand with the interviewee, it will certainly make them happier however don’t give them the day before. People tend to write down their answers and try to learn them which never works out well! Make your questions difficult to answer with a “yes” or “no”, questions such as “tell me about...” rather than “do you think that...” Think about having questions ready that ask the same things in different ways in case you don’t get the response you need. If you interview someone who stammers or uses “you know” a lot you may need to go over the same ground a few times so you can have something to edit, a sound bite as they are called which is a sentence or two which really sums up the interviewees point of view without pauses or stumbling speech. As you are listening to the responses imagine how they will be cut and appear in the final piece. If it doesn’t work, ask again!

Vox pops

Vox pops are a type of instant reaction from the street interview, a great way to get the opinions of loads of people into your video. They are often used in news items with an interviewer and camera going out and literally interviewing people on the street. It’s not always easy to get people to stop though.

Maintain eye contact

Although you may be concentrating on other things (especially if you are also doing camera etc.) but if you don’t make the interviewee feel like they are having a conversation they will be as distracted as you and appear nervous. They will also doubt you are valuing their opinion.

Listen and respond noiselessly

Nod your head, smile a lot but don’t go “Uh huh” or “Mmm” to encourage the responses, you will ruin the sound. Leave your next question until you are sure they have finished talking, sometimes pausing, allowing silence will let the interviewee relax into an answer they wouldn’t normally give, you don’t want to ruin it by talking or interrupting their line of thought. Don’t rush!


With only one camera it is difficult to include the interviewer as more than just a shoulder. A ‘noddie’ is where the camera is turned around to face the interviewer after the interview and records them asking the questions again (the interviewee doesn’t need to hang around). You may also want some nodding, smiling etc because when you come to edit it may be the only way to cut out an irrelevant part of an interviewee’s answer by cutting to the interviewer.

The still shot

Filming a still image such as a photo helps recreate scenes which can no longer be filmed such as dead relatives, destroyed buildings or artefacts. It also adds a sense of history and culture to a film. The lighting is often difficult on photographs and people will not always trust you to take them away. The use of archive material may also require special permissions.


Again this can help with the editing and it helps describe a subject to your audience. If an interviewee talks about their car, you would ideally get a shot of it driving by, parked up, close up, wide, interior. This also gives you another easy way to cut up an interview smoothly. If there are no obvious or possible shots, take some of the environment, close ups of their hands, desk and some of them talking generally with the interviewer.

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