Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Interviews are one of the hardest things to master. Many people think they can interview, but most I’ve heard show the opposite. It takes years of practice to be able to nail the interview. Here are a few tips to help you get here faster:

Prepare. It’s amazing how many people think they can pull the interview off by just talking to the guest. You need a road map to help guide you through the interview.

Listen to the answers. All too often you can tell the person doing the interview isn’t listening to the answer. They are too focused on what they are going to say next. This happens consistently on TV news. The anchor in the studio asks the reporter on location a question that was already answered in the report. There’s no excuse for that.

Ask the question, then shut up and let them answer. Don’t be afraid of having a little dead air between the question and the answer. A little dead air means that the interviewee was just asked a question they have never been asked before and they need to think of an answer. That’s a great complement to you and your question.

Ask a topical question that everybody around the water cooler is talking about. Stay away from cliché questions like “what’s on your Ipod?”, “boxers or briefs?” “who are your idols?”, “any advice for up and comers?” etc. Ask questions people really want to know. That’s what makes Howard Stern a tremendous interviewer.

Keep your interviews short. Shorter interview segments spread out over two or three breaks work best. Remember the big teases to get you from one segment to the next.

Get your guest to tell a story. People love stories and if you ask the right question, you’ll most likely get a story.

If you pre-record your interview (which you always should) make sure that it’s not overly edited. Leave some room to breathe with your edits.

If you have other tips, I'd love to hear yours.

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