You Won’t Believe How Amazing These Interview Techniques Are
My official title at Ginghamsburg Church (@ginghamsburg) is “Senior Media Producer”. But Pastor Mike (@revmslaughter) always refers to me as something else. “This is Dan,” he says, “our chief storyteller”. But it’s not my ability to tell stories that earned me that title. I’m simply reformatting stories that are told to me. Rather, I believe it to be my ability to reveal stories. And that, has everything to do with asking the right questions, the right way.
Here are 5 interview techniques that will make you a better story…revealer.
1. Prescreen your subject first.
This can happen over coffee, over the phone or over email. I like to send prompting questions over email. This gives your subject time to reflect over their answers, and gives you a chance to prepare follow-up questions. Write a list of possible questions and bring it with you to the interview. Internalize these questions so you can ask without referring to your list.
2. Secretly hit “record”.
People have a strange habit of clamming up when they know the camera is rolling. Hit the record button before they even enter the room. Put them at ease by asking general questions first. Avoid any official “starting point” of your conversation. The best content comes out of conversation, and an interview that starts conversationally will feel most natural. Take your time, check your audio, white balance, get your shot… all while putting your subject at ease.
3. A conversation requires at least 2 people.
Even the best actors can’t pretend to be interested. Active listening beckons real responses from the interviewer. Empathy allows you to go deeper. Peel your eyes away from the camera (maybe bring someone with you to do that) and focus on the person in front of you. Be genuinely interested. Your best questions will come out of true interest and care. If they sense you care, they’ll open up and forget the camera is there.
Jason’s Story is a beautiful example. I pre-interviewed Jason, but he didn’t open up about his father until the 45-minute mark of our conversation. Listening builds trust. And yes, I cried. Why? Because I was invested.
Empathy allows for more. If they sense you care, they’ll open up & forget about the camera. @Danniobracken Click To Tweet
4. Ask open-ended questions.
There’s nothing worse than a “yes” or “no” response. Even if you know the answer already, ask the question in a way that gets your subject to answer in detail. If they fall short of the response you’re looking for, ask the same question in a new way. If they still don’t give the answer you need, feed them lines and say, “repeat after me”. I find this helpful when looking for simple transitional phrases.
5. Keep recording.
When you’ve exhausted your questions, keep the camera rolling and ask your subject to share anything else on his or her heart. You’ll find your best content there. Remember, the story is not yours. It’s theirs.
Dan graduated from Asbury College in 2006 with a degree in media communication. A few months later, he joined the staff of Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, OH as a graphic design intern. After learning a thing or two over the years, Dan is now Senior Media Producer and leads a team of 80 unpaid media servants. Through his incredible creative ability, God has used him to change lives through the power of story. Dan lives in Tipp City, OH with his wife, Amy, and has 3 year old twins.