Interview footage can make or break your brand video. That’s why it’s crucial that your interviews go well, that you ask the right questions, and that the person you’re interviewing feels totally comfortable when they’re in front of the camera.
But all of that is easier said than done. If you’re not a professional videographer or lifestyle reporter, getting what you want to hear out of your interviewee can be hard. Well, even if you are a videographer or lifestyle reporter, it can still be hard. So how do you work on becoming a better interviewer? How can you get more out of the people you’re interviewing and kill it with amazing soundbites?
We don’t have a secret formula – no one does! – but we do have some tips that can help you better strategize your interviews, prepare, and ultimately knock it out of the park, helping you capture the absolute best footage for your video and establishing a great relationship with everyone you talk to.
When Interviews are Essential
Not every marketing video needs an interview to come to life.
Many are 100 percent scripted and don’t require real answers delivered in an interview format to communicate the brand’s message. These are usually lifestyle videos, which focus more on conveying a certain style of living to a certain demographic than they do communicating information from a specific person.
Fully animated videos also don’t rely on live interviews – obviously, these being animated makes it more difficult to incorporate live interviews in a natural way. And since animated videos are typically used to explain difficult concepts, interviews aren’t the best format to share that more complex information.
But there are plenty of video types that not only benefit from live interviews, but are transformed by them. Whether it’s a company representative being interviewed, like a CEO, manager, or customer representative, or someone else entirely, like a customer or prospective client, live interviews are essential in mini-documentary style videos.
By definition, mini-doc videos highlight a company’s core mission or value proposition by showing real-life examples, usually partnering interview footage with b-roll of your business in action.
These videos include day in the life videos, customer testimonials, brand videos, and more. Take a look at how we interspersed this school’s brand video with emotional, impactful interview footage, and how it brought the video to life.
7 Tips for Getting the Best Interview You Possibly Can
The key to getting great interview soundbites and footage is not necessarily being a great interviewer, but making your interviewee comfortable and open to sharing their honest feelings with you.
Here are a few of the ways we put our interviewees at ease around us and ensure we get that bite we’re looking for.
1. Be warm and friendly.
This is pretty much common sense, but a reminder never hurts. If you’re warm and friendly, the person you’re interviewing will be warm and friendly. Don’t show up in a rush with a long list of technical questions and a frown on your face. People generally know how to read a situation, and if they feel like you’re not happy to be there, they won’t be either.
Instead, act natural! Show up with a smile on your face, explain the process in an easy-to-understand way, be sure to maintain eye contact, and make small talk when you aren’t recording. Besides making the shoot more fun, it’ll also help put your star at ease.
2. Do your research.
It’s important to know who you’re speaking with before you sit down. Doing your research means you’ll know more about them, and can not only ask more informed questions, but make them feel more comfortable around you and show that you care.
3. Start with the softball questions.
There are two main benefits to starting with easy questions, like “Tell me who you are and what you do.” First, this provides the introductory footage you need for context in your video. Second, it helps the person you’re interviewing warm up, in a sense.
Think about it. Starting with a very difficult question, like “Why are you better than your competitors?” puts the person on edge and they’ll struggle to answer it smoothly if it’s the first question you throw at them. A simpler question they’re probably used to answering will get them used to the camera, will soften their expectations, and lower their self-consciousness.
4. Never ask yes or no questions.
Yes or no questions will lead to yes or no answers. If you’re at a party where you don’t know anyone and stick to asking things like, “Do you like the music?” or “Are you close with so-and-so?” you’re going to get boring answers and you’ll be stuck in an awkward loop of conversation.
The same exact thing can happen in your video. Avoid questions like, “Do you like the work you do?” and “Does your product help people?” These will get you one-word answers and they’ll create abrupt cutaways that’ll harshen the flow of your video.
Trust your gut and ask open-ended questions instead that’ll lead to longer answers, like “What inspired you to start this company?” and “What made you try this product?”
5. Don’t be afraid to re-ask the same question.
Did you ask a good question, but get a crummy answer? Re-ask the question in a slightly different way and see if it sparks anything new. Often, a slight re-wording is enough to get you a more usable soundbite.
And if it’s not, then just let your interviewee know. Politely ask them to repeat their answer and elaborate a bit more this time around. Let them know you loved it and you know there’s really good information in there, but you just need a slightly clearer, more detailed take.
6. Ask them to include the question in their answer.
If you do this, your editors will absolutely love you. Having your interviewee include part of the question in their answer for context makes stringing together separate thoughts much easier and helps build your video in a more natural-sounding way.
For instance, if you ask “What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a CEO?” their answer should be, “The most important thing I’ve learned as a CEO is…”
Though in person, hearing these answers can feel contrived, it’s actually necessary in video where the viewer has little or no context and no frame of reference about what your video’s purpose is.
7. Let them end the interview.
This doesn’t mean upset them until they storm off in a rage – this means end your interview with a broader question or ask them for their final thoughts. This opens up your interviewee for conversational commentary, information your questions might have missed, or other personality-driving remarks that could be great for your video.
Being a great interviewer doesn’t just mean asking the right questions. It also means being there for the person you’re interviewing and helping them feel as comfortable as possible in front of the camera.
To do your part right, you need to watch tons of interviews. Think about what makes the person you’re watching more engaging and more relevant to you. What is it about the flow of their answers that captivates you? Take notes and use them as your guide. Script out how you’ll ask your questions and the order in which you’ll ask them. Practice interviewing other people so you can nail down your tone, your small talk, your eye contact, and more – all the details that’ll help you kill it once you’re on set with the cameras ready to go.
A great interview can be the key to a great video, but capturing a great interview is an art form. It’s not something you can learn overnight, but it is a skill you can perfect with time and practice. Hopefully these tips and tricks can help you unlock the inner reporter in you, so you can create not just a successful video, but capture a truly authentic moment with your video subject.
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