Interviewing people part 2: When recording is involved

When you are taking sound and/or video of an interview, there are a few things to watch out for:

Warm up time is essential – People get more flustered when they know their exact words are being preserved. Talk to them a bit before you start recording. For people who aren’t on camera a lot, it’s a good idea to let them practice answering the questions in advance.

Place the person to look good – You don’t want the sun behind them, but you don’t want your interviewee to look like he or she is in pain from staring into it either. Interesting backgrounds are great, but a relaxed, non-distracted interviewee is more important. 

Don’t talk over the interviewee – You want to get clean sound, so that means you need to refrain from offering encouraging “uh, huh,” “I see” and “yeah” during the interview.

Listen for good soundbites, and if you don’t have them, ask questions again – People get better at giving succinct, powerful answers with practice. Saying “I want to make sure we have an answer that makes you look good,” will help smooth over the awkwardness of asking for repetitions.

Log – Write down the time into the interview that you get particularly good answers as you take notes. This will save you a lot of time finding soundbites later. And of course, always take back up notes. 

Remember, it’s still a conversation – Jon Stewart’s interview with Malala Yousafzai is a good example of this. She gives a great interview because she feels like she is just talking to him. Don’t let recording gadgets get in the way of the human touch in interviewing. 

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