Production - Do you know how to conduct an interview?

Last updated by Tiago Araújo [SSW] about 3 years ago.See history

Though each interviewer will have their own style, line of questions etc, there are some basic rules that you should follow when conducting an interview:

  1. Introduce yourself, then the interviewee, then the topic of the interview.

"Hi guys, today we're talking about J Query with Peter Smith, how's it going Peter?"

Figure: Bad Example - The Interviewer did not introduce him or herself, nor did he/she explain who the interviewee is. Also, the topic is a little too broad, it will be extremely rare to find a video that covers every single aspect of a major subject like that

"Hi Guys, I'm Adam Cogan and I'm here with Peter Smith of 123 Development Solutions Inc. Today we're going to be discussing J Query and how the latest edition will affect your source code. How's it going, Peter?"

Figure: Good Example - correct order, sufficient detail, and straight to the point

  1. Tell the interviewee not to speak until they are introduced.
  2. When the interviewee is speaking, remain quiet. This is about the audience receiving the information, not you.
  3. When the interviewee is finished speaking, simply move straight to the next question (either follow-up or planned) but do not comment or react to what they said, it distracts the audience from their own reaction and comes across as self-centered. If you read the transcript of an interview in a magazine, you will notice that in professional interviews you won't be reading the words "huh that's really interesting" or "ah ok" as this does nothing for the reader, they came to learn from the interviewee.
  4. Saying something unusual to catch the audience's attention at the beginning can sometimes heighten the value of an interview, but choose carefully. You want to say something that conveys good communication and honesty, both with the interviewee and the audience, even if it is slightly distancing. A good way to do this can be to disclose your bias upfront.

"To start with I should explain that I don't like your company or your personality"

Figure: Bad Example - Don't say something downright offensive with no point to it

[In a video titled "C# vs JavaScript"] "Before we start, I should explain that I am a JavaScipt guy and you're going to have to work hard to convince me"

Figure: Good Example - This builds trust with the audience, creates a challenge for the interviewee, and creates an interesting sense of contract between the 2 of you

  1. If you are conducting a webcam interview, look at the camera as much as possible and have your notes close to the camera on your screen.
  2. Overprepare, don't under prepare. Having a set of questions figured out before-hand can have a large impact on the value of your video, as it slows the pacing to have the people on screen figuring the interview out as they go. It can also be distracting to see the interviewer constantly checking their notes. Keep in mind follow-up questions can stack up and end up making your video last too long, so use them sparingly.
  3. If you are going to use screencap cutaways at all, figure out beforehand which ones you plan on using and have them ready to go at a moment's notice, the audience does not want to watch you logging in and waiting for load times, etc. They also do not want to see you figuring out a piece of software as you go, this is a major no-no.

"'And that's the SSW Rules site, yes?' 'Yes, I'll just open that up so you can see it............. there you go.' 'And how are the editing features on that?' 'Um, they're pretty good, I'll just show you here.......... let me log in........................ just gotta wait for it to load............ Yeah, so you can see here............ sorry, one sec................. yeah, it's great when it comes to HTML source editing if I open the code here.......................hang on............................ (etc.)'

Figure: Bad Example - This is painful to watch and comes across as very unprofessional. It is also difficult to edit out in post-production

"'And that's the SSW Rules site, yes?' 'Yes, which you can see here on my screen' 'And how are the editing features on that?' 'Well here you can see the editing screen layout and it's quite effective and easy to understand. If we look here at the code you'll notice that it's very clean (etc)'

Figure: Good Example - No messing around and keeps the pace up

  1. Ask the interviewee to include your question in the start of their answer. This reinforces the question for the audience, gives a strong start to the interviewee’s response, and also makes it possible to create incredibly useful smaller video segments.

"Why do you like the SSW Rules?" "They are very useful"

Figure: Bad Example - Interviewee’s statement is very general and could be referring to anything

"Why do you like the SSW Rules?" "I like the SSW Rules because they are very useful"

Figure: Good Example - establishes an immediate context for the interviewee’s response, and is a powerful statement when heard without the interviewer’s question

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