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Questions to ask in an Interview

Part of the video production process is often an interview with the business owner. I love this because I get chance to discover the story behind the business – why these people do what they do. And no matter what the business is – whether it’s a financial management company or a beauty salon, there’s always a motivating force and it’s understanding that “raison d’être” that helps potential clients buy in to what that business offers. And anyway, this is what makes the video interesting.

So here are some questions I regularly ask:

  • Describe your business and what you offer.
  • Why do clients come to you?
  • What’s unique about what you offer?
  • What is it about your work that really motivates you?
  • What is most rewarding?
  • What are the challenges?
  • Any anecdotal stories about someone who you’ve helped?
  • What difference did your service make to them?
  • Any funny moments?
  • What’s most important to you when dealing with clients?
  • What advice would you give to someone looking for your kind of service?

A little bit of emotion and humour help. Show you’re human and viewers will connect. The ultimate goal is to get a response and some insight into your work and vision will prompt that interaction.

Look out for my next article on “when an interview gets really interesting”!

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When an Interview Gets Really Interesting

The interview process is the bit I love most when making videos. Discovering the personality of a business and capturing it on screen is my goal and to that end I get to ask lots of nosey questions. Once the cameras are set up we forget they’re there. I settle down with the business owner and have a heart to heart. 

Our conversation covers all the main points and in the edit I choose the most compelling snippets. Not only does this approach make the experience easier and the resulting piece to camera more natural, but we get to the heart of what the business is all about. The general questions are important because they set the scene. And then we get to the good stuff.

It’s fascinating that as soon as I ask the question, “What motivates you?” Or “What got you into this work?” The atmosphere changes. More often than not, their voice softens, their face relaxes and it even becomes more fluent with less “um”s and “er”s. That’s because it’s personal and there’s a story to tell. We’ve got to the golden nugget and in the end that is what’s going to make the audience respond. There needs to be a bit of emotion and something people can resonate with.

This happened when I interviewed Dave Sully about his work running sports sessions for people with mental health issues. When he starts talking about his own experiences and his reason for doing what he does, there’s a depth. There’s an opening for the audience to put themselves in his shoes and connect on a deeper level. We get it and we respond. Click here to see the video.

Feel free to send your thoughts on what makes a good video. And check out other articles on video production here.

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Interview Technique

You want to get the best from your interviewee, help them relax and enjoy the experience because that’s how you will get the best answers and help them come across well. The best videos get to the heart of the matter, the personal stuff. You want it to be meaningful. There’s an art to interviewing well. Here are some tips.

Give a little of yourself. I’ve discovered that people will relax and open up if you are relaxed and open too. I’m chatty from the time we enter the room where we’re doing the interview. I chat and ask questions as I’m setting up the camera, mics and lights. It distracts the interviewee from the intensity of the situation and helps them warm to you. It doesn’t have to be on topic – small talk about the weather and travelling here is very non-threatening, and a good way to start. When we sit down and start the main questions, we’re already chatting and it’s a seamless transition. They may not even notice the interview has begun. Great!

Respond. The interviewee needs to know you’re listening to them. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to rush on to the next question. Feel free to comment briefly on what they’ve said. They’re more likely to open up if they feel listened to. I avoid looking down at the questions so that the interview flows like a normal conversation.

Body language is important. Sit with your legs and arms uncrossed. This shows that you’re listening, open and relaxed. They will then do the same. The likelihood is that they will automatically copy your posture and if they are relaxed then viewers watching the video will also feel relaxed. It’s all psychology! The same goes for smiling. Nod and smile and they will smile back. Remember not to make any noise though so that the video can be edited cleanly.

Don’t be afraid to ask the same question a different way. You need to have in your mind the main points that you need to get across in the video. So make sure they’re covered clearly and succinctly. You can tell the interviewee that it’s OK if they repeat themselves and that the best bits will be chosen in the edit.

Make sure the interviewee answers in complete sentences so your own voice can be chopped out  of the video. It’s a good idea to explain this before you start.

Be encouraging and show appreciation but don’t over-do it. Be genuine and enjoy it. 

Look out for my next article on what questions to ask.

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