Professional and experienced interviewers seem to make each and every interview they do easy. The always ask the questions every listener wants to ask. This applies whether as a viewer watching on television, or a listener listening to the interview on the radio, as a podcast or as an MP3 download. The interview, depending of course on the type of interview as music interviews will differ from political interviews, becomes a simple and effective conversation the listener is always part of, no matter who is being interviewed.
Do the Research
So how do successful interviewers achieve the best from their subjects? Highly successful hosts and big-name interviewers with a huge audience may have a host of researchers doing the job for them, and the freelance interviewer or student beginning a career in radio may have limited funds and do all the work themselves but the end result is the same. A good interview often depends on good research.
- Do the research
- Know about the subject
- Interviewing an author – always read the book.
- Look into the background of any interviewee or story
- Learn as much about the subject as time allows
- No time spend researching is ever wasted
The research work may point to some interesting and often unexpected angles to the interview, and whilst the listener doesn’t expect the interviewer to be an expert on every subject, they should at least be knowledgeable.
Before the Interview
Spontaneity has its place in most interviews as in any good conversation but to achieve a good discussion, being prepared is key – always. This preparation should include some of the following:
- From the research have some questions ready but be prepared to react to the answers
- For studio interviews always test the equipment beforehand
- For remote interviews arrive early and allow some time to set-up
- Check battery and/or mains availability
- Use clean or erased discs, make sure there’s enough memory for the whole recording
- Test the ‘line,’ if the recording is on ISDN or similar equipment
- Check the microphone(s) are working!
The interviewer should be comfortable with the recording equipment or being in a recording environment, and the best way to achieve that is through use or practice. Use the equipment, test the results, try and find improvements in different ways of recording before the actual interview takes place.
Anyone being interviewed, even if they’ve been interviewed numerous times before, will take a little time to adapt to the situation. Anyone not used to it will be conscious of the microphone and the questioning. Both novice and experienced interviewees will react to the person interviewing them and the position they find themselves in. A relaxed interviewee will give a far better recording and there are a number of ways to conduct the interview to achieve this.