Conducting interviews can be extremely beneficial to your media brand or channel because it can be a refreshing change for listeners to hear the opinion or expertise of an industry professional. Interviews can also be extremely educational and interesting for audiences.

While most of the content is generated by the person you are interviewing, the responsibility to tailor and prepare for an interview with consuming lies completely in your hands.

Here are eight steps to conducting a successful interview:

1. Remember who you’re doing the interview for

Whenever you do anything — whether it’s on your TV or radio show, or even your podcast — you do it for your audience. An interview is no different. Your number one priority is to enlighten your listeners.

This means that when deciding on an interview topic and an interviewee, you need to keep the interests and desires of your target audience in mind.

You also need to ensure that the answers you receive from your interviewee will enlighten the people who will be consuming the content.

This is essential as you don’t want your audience changing the channel, or tuning into a different station.

2. Do your homework

It is important to be fully prepared for a media interview, down to the smallest detail. This is essential as if you are disorganised it will reflect badly on both you and your brand.

Things that you need to do before the interview include:

Doing research on your interviewee

You need to know who you’re interviewing, what they do, any awards they have won and any pieces of work that are worth mentioning. This will ensure that you are able to properly formulate relevant and interesting questions. It also means that you can ask questions that are a little more personal to the interviewee.

Doing research on the topic

Even though interviews are there so that people can learn about a specific topic, it is the job of the interviewer to know more than the audience. as this will help in the formulation of relevant questions. It will also allow you, as the interviewer, to have the knowledge to create follow-up questions during the interview or challenge what the interviewee is saying.

Confirming the details of the interview

It is important to be organised, so you need to ensure that you know:
  • The time of the interview
  • The date of the interview
  • The location (if the interview is in person)
  • The method of communication if it is not in person (Skype, phone call etc.)
  • Approximate length of the interview

Testing your recording equipment

This is extremely important as there is nothing worse than having your recording equipment not work and missing the entire interview. It also looks unprofessional if you only test the equipment out when the interviewee is there or on the line already.

3. Prepare some open-ended questions

You should prepare a list of questions that will act as the template for the interview. You don’t have to completely stick to this list, but it can be a useful tool to guide the conversation. During the interview, it will be up to you if you want to add or remove any questions.

You need to ensure that all the questions you ask are on-topic and are open-ended. This means that the question will not allow for a simple ‘yes’ or ’no’ answer. Open-ended questions give the interviewee a chance to explain or expand on their answer.

When writing your questions, ask yourself these questions:
  • Is it an open-ended question?
  • Does the question only have one focus?
  • Is the question relevant?
  • Is the question phrased in a way that is easy to understand?
If you answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions, then your interview questions are ready!

It is a good idea to show the interviewee the questions you will be asking, to give them an idea of what the interview will be about and it allows them to prepare relevant responses.

4. Prepare follow-up questions

For every question you have, you should come up with at least one possible follow-up question that would be suitable to ask.

You might not actually ask these follow-ups in the interview, as follow-ups often depend on the answer given. However, follow-up questions are a great way to dig deeper into a topic of interest — if the opportunity presents itself.

5. Make sure you create a welcoming environment

In order to make sure you get the best answers from your interviewee, you need to ensure they feel comfortable. The best way to do this is to create a welcoming environment.

Here are some ways you can create that comfortable environment:
  • Let them know before recording that the interview is just like a conversation between two people.
  • Make sure they know all the details about the interview before hand (like the questions that will be asked and how long the interview will be).
  • Thank them for taking part in the interview before you start and if there is a live audience, introduce the interviewee to the audience.
  • Have them listen to the rehearsal of the introduction to the interview.
  • Be enthusiastic and friendly.

6. Let the interviewee talk

It’s time for the harsh truth — as the interviewer no one tuned into the interview to hear you speak. Your audience wants to hear the interviewee, you are there to ask the questions and guide the interview in a certain direction. So make sure that you don’t talk too much and don’t interrupt the interviewee.

To ensure that you don’t interrupt them, try waiting just a few extra seconds after you think they’re done before you start speaking. This way, if they aren’t done you won’t make the mistake of jumping to the next question.

It is important to engage in a conversation — yes — but there is a line. Keep in mind that you are there to create a space for the interviewee to share their story. It’s all about them and their topic, you are there to facilitate them.

7. Listen

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to focus on what you’re going to say so much that you forget to listen to your interviewee.

Listening to your interviewee will help you come up with any follow-up questions that you didn’t think of before the interview. It can also help you notice when they have already answered a question you may want to ask.

8. Make sure your post-production edit is high-quality

Poor quality audio or video can ruin a fantastic interview. If the quality is bad, many people will change the channel.

Therefore, you need to do whatever you can to ensure that your interview is high-quality. For example:
  • Use high-quality mics
  • Use the best quality camera you have available
  • Limit background noise
  • Soundproof where possible
  • Make sure the background is suitable (if you are doing a video interview)
  • Ensure your subject is framed properly
  • Make use of lighting equipment
Making a high-quality interview doesn’t always mean having high-end equipment. If your interview is for social media using basic equipment such as selfie sticks can be exactly what you need.

What other steps do you think go into conducting a successful Tv or radio interview? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Now that you’ve got the interview process down, why not check out The ultimate guide to creating high-quality podcasts and put your newfound knowledge to the test.