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Doing a video interview

Here are some tips you can use in doing a video interview.
Areas covered:
• conducting the interview
• strategies for a good interview
• interview setup
• voice
• appearance

Conducting the Interview

  1. Know your topic. Brief yourself in advance of the interview about the person to be interviewed and the issues to be discussed.

  2. Come up with two or three questions you want to ask. Do not read from your notes while interviewing. Check your notes before the interview starts.

  3. Instead of an interview try to have a conversation. Interact with the interviewee. Show interest in the answers given.

  4. Listen to the answers. Check for clarity and completeness. Listen to what is said, but also to what is left unsaid. This will provide clues about follow-up questions to ask.

  5. Don’t be afraid of silence. Be quiet after an especially startling comment. Most sources will try to fill the void by restating a comment in clearer form or adding comments on a point that you hadn’t thought to raise.

  6. Guide the interview so that you accomplish your purpose and obtain the comments that you want.

  7. Pace the interview by asking general questions that get the interviewee talking. If possible, save tough questions for later in the interview. You may have to ask the sensitive questions immediately if you face time constraints.

  8. Do not answer your own questions. Avoid loaded questions in which the answer is presupposed. Let the interviewee supply the answers.

  9. Ask questions that are brief and specific. Do not ask overlong questions. Ask one question at a time. Avoid double-barreled questions in which two actions are equated (eg. do not ask, Should the premier sign the bill and pursue a policy of non-interference in municipal governments?).

  10. Ask questions that require specific, short answers. If you encounter simply yes/no responses, ask for a restatement, clarification, or qualification of the comment or simply ask, Why do you feel that way? Generally, restated answers provide responses that are shorter, to the point, and more usable on the air.

  11. Ask for clear explanations for technical terms and jargon.

  12. At the end of the interview ask, Is there anything else I should know or that you want to add? The comments that follow may provide useful insights.

Strategies for a Good Interview

  1. Demonstrate that you have done your homework, that you have taken steps to brief yourself about the interview situation, the news source and the issues involved. This projects an image of a professional journalist trying to understand an event or situation.

  2. Project an image of a human being, not just a journalist who is informed, intelligent, reasonably friendly and compassionate, and anxious to get comments for a story.

  3. Take steps to make the source feel at ease — about your equipment, the interview setting, the questions to be asked and about you as a reporter.

  4. Build rapport. Establish a cooperative, harmonious relationship between you and the news source. Get the source to share interest and enthusiasm for the story (eg. why the story is important, what you need to know, etc.)

  5. Remain neutral. During in-person interviews, watch your body language and facial expressions as well as your vocal inflections and the words you use. They reveal your attitudes and expectations. Do not offer your opinions, and do not respond to the interviewee’s expressions of opinions.

Interview Setup

  1. Be conscious of the physical setting of the interview. The surroundings, the interviewee.

  2. Place yourself next to the interview guest to establish an open, interested attitude and to give the guest the quality of attention needed. Interviewers often stand closer to interviewees on camera more than off camera. This is because the camera magnifies the distance between the persons in front of it, and this spacing often makes them look awkward or uncomfortable. So to eliminate this problem, interviewer and interviewee often stand shoulder-to-shoulder in two-shots, and the interviewer backs away as the camera zooms in to the interviewee.

  3. Make microphone and camera placement as unobtrusive as possible.

  4. Tell your interview guest in advance how long the live interview is expected to last.

  5. Since interview time is limited, ask only one or two key questionsof immediate interest.

  6. Predetermine how the interview will end.


  1. Vary the pitch in your voice. Nothing dampens audience interest in a story more than a voice that sounds dull and monotone. One way to vary pitch is to lower speaking volume. The apparent intimacy with the audience should increase while your pitch will tend to vary and follow natural, conversational patterns.

  2. Your voice should be expressive and lively. Varying the pitch of your voice will help. But you must also understand and then convey the key ideas of each story that you want to tell. Journalists use several techniques to help convey key ideas:
    • Group words into logical clusters.
    • Underline key words in each sentence to remind you to emphasize these words when speaking.
    • Vocal expressiveness makes stories more interesting and makes information more easily understood and meaningful for the audience.

  3. Vocal pace or rate of speaking needs to be slow enough to make words and ideas readily understood but fast enough to sustain interest. Generally, a reporter’s reading speed will be a little faster than in regular face to face conversation.

  4. The audience must not only hear what you say clearly and distinctly (your enunciation), the words you say must also be pronounced correctly.


  1. Be well groomed.

  2. Dress in simple, tasteful clothing; avoid extremes in color, texture and design.

  3. Don’t move around, nod your head excessively.

  4. Stand up straight; while on camera, angle or turn your body slightly toward the person you are interviewing. This avoids a flat appearance. It also controls the tendencies to rock from side to side or back and forth.

  5. Keep your hands at your sides unless gesturing to emphasize a point.

  6. Any gestures should look natural and be motivated by story content.


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