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Interview Preparation

Lesson 2 from: Produce And Create An Impactful Interview

Abba Shapiro

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Lesson Info

2. Interview Preparation

Lesson Info

Interview Preparation

- [Instructor] Let's talk about interview preparation. Okay. First of all, I want to just get to know the people in the room. We're going to have a conversation. We're going to talk back and forth, you get to ask questions. So, I'm going to go around the room. And I just want you to tell me your name. Tell me a little bit of why you're here, what's your objective of coming here, and maybe the kind of interviews that you'll be doing or something interesting you feel about. You're doing a blog or whatnot. So we'll go left to right. And we'll start here, and just a few minutes and I might talk back and forth with you. - [Sarah] So, my name is Sarah, and I am here because I am founding a food video blog called "In Lieu of Cordon Bleu." And it's all about learning how to create restaurant quality dishes at home, from the development all the way to the plating. And of course, that's going to involve interviewing local area chefs. - Have done any interviewing yet? - I have. Yeah, we've starte...

d and done a couple of the shoots. Yeah. - And were you happy? - Uhm... - Okay. - There were challenges. Let's put it that way. - Well, the good thing is there are always going to be challenges, but you adapt a lot better. - Yeah, absolutely. - Excellent. Thank you. - [April] I'm April, and I really want to take my interviews to the next level. I've really never done multiple cameras. And it's just nonprofit work and... - So, what do you do? What kind of nonprofit is it? - An organization up in Vancouver called Esperanza Ministries. And we work with them in the summertime. - So have you done a lot of interviews that were one camera and you just want to advance to multi-camera or...? - One, yeah. I would like to advance. Yeah. - Excellent. Any challenges that you've had that we might be covering? - When the interview starts before the camera is rolling. When they start telling you... - What to do. - ...great information before you've got things ready. - Okay. So all the preparation to get everything. And everything from soup to nuts, I guess? - Yes. - Excellent. Thank you. - [Candice] - Hi, I'm Candice, and I'm a brain storyteller. So I'm a photographer, and I work with mostly women entrepreneurs to tell their story. And in order to do that better and bigger, I thought incorporating video is the next step. So, I'm looking to take what I do with still photography and make it action. - Have you done any interviews yet? - I haven't. I've used video for other events. like I photograph a lot of speakers. So I've done that portion, but this is my first try at it. So, yeah. I need to learn it all. - So you're a complete newbie? - Yeah, total newbie. - A clean slate? - Yeah. - Excellent. Well, hopefully, you won't need to think of yourself as a clean slate in three hours, you'll be teaching other folks. - Hey, thank you. - [Ben] - Hi, I'm Ben. And I haven't done an interview-type of a video yet,. But I'm interested in focusing on neighborhoods in the area, and then businesses and people who work their own businesses and... - What type of things do you do? What type of projects? You said you want to interview people in the neighborhood. - I do. So, I'm a realtor and I want to socialize... - So you're a realtor, okay, so that... - ...on different neighborhoods in the Seattle area and then focusing on... - So that has been your motivation. You're a realtor, you want to make videos that will have, potentially, maybe the people selling the house, the people talking about the neighborhood is telling the story? - Exactly, you're right. - Excellent. Have you ever been interviewed? - Me? No. - Yes, you have. You've just been interviewed. - I've just been interviewed. - Now you have your first interview out of the way, and the next is going to be so much easier. Right? - Sure. - Absolutely. - Absolutely. - [Ed] - My name is Ed, and I do a lot of food photography, and I like working with chefs so I want to take it from taking... - Food? I'm going to introduce you to the Sarah at the opposite end. - How're you doing? - All the foodies get to talk to each other, and everybody in the middle gets to eat. - So, I want to go from taking still pictures of chefs and the food, and actually start interviewing the chefs and start to get inside their heads and find out why they're making the dishes that they do and what inspired them to become chefs. So, that's the interview series I would like to do. - Cool. Have you done any interviewing yet? - Just preliminary. Just preliminary stuff but I'm more interested in the interview preparation so that when I go and talk to them I'm not wasting their time or embarrassing myself. - Yeah. Well, now don't worry about embarrassing yourself. Just watch me. You can see hours and hours of embarrassment. So, I just met everybody. It helped me, but this is something else that I wanted you to be aware of. Each of us just had a teeny little conversation. That's part of the preparation. I know a little bit about you now. Not only that, but we're not just sitting down and starting to talk about the interview, we're starting to develop a synergy here. And that's something that you need to keep in mind throughout the process. All the way from when you think about what you need to do, through when you're finishing the interview. And that's what we're going to look over over the next hour or so. Now, a good interviewer will occasionally have notes. I have bullets, so I don't forget anything. I should not be buried in this, but it will remind me to do things. So here's something to keep in mind as you are preparing. Yeah, have an idea of what you're going to do. Have a reference. Don't be buried in your script, don't be buried in the idea, but the nice thing is you have a checklist. And it's okay because that way you're not going to miss out on what you need to do. As a matter of fact, checklists are important. And you should be creating checklists from all the way from pre-production through the end of the interview. And perhaps, beyond, into the editing. So, there's a variety of interviews that people do. We're talking about real estate. Most of you are interviewing people on the street. Candice, I think you're interviewing business people. You're interviewing people in houses. You're going to Canada and interviewing, which is really far from here, which is in Seattle. You're probably going there for the Canadian beer. I'm guessing, I don't know. So, a variety of things. So some of the types of things, documentary. Maybe people are doing a documentary. Don't think of a documentary as a one-hour thing that's going to be with animals flying through the air. It could be, but a documentary can be a three-minute show about a chef. So it's a little story. You're telling a story. And that's the most important thing that you need to keep in mind when preparing for the interview, is why are you talking to this person? Are you talking to them to get information about their company? Are you talking to them because they're an expert on something and you're telling another story and you need validation? Are they like a scientist from NASA and you're talking about a new moon that was just recently discovered? You know there's been a new moon discovered? Not discovered but they accepted it. It applied, it got accepted. Around Earth, we have a second moon. I'm really (inaudible), "Really? I don't believe that. There's not a second moon. I looked up there, when did that happen?" Now, it's teeny. I think it's 120 feet but it is orbiting. It's really weird. And it's going to go away eventually. It got caught in our gravitational pull and it's going to orbit for a while, and then it's going to just go away. So yeah, look up out at that other moon. You learn something every day. The other kinds of things will be experts, employees. Maybe you're doing something for the church. So, maybe you're talking to the members or you're talking to... What kind of people are you talking to? - The people who actually work up in Canada. - People don't work up in Canada. It's too cold. But so those are the workers. Those are just everyday people and they're probably telling a story. So the idea is when you're preparing this, in your mind, are trying to develop what story do you want to tell. Because that's how you're going to focus your questions.To make sure you get the answers you need to assemble the story that you want to tell. That's important. You should always go into that interview with an objective. "What am I hoping to get out of this?" Because if you don't have that you just get a bunch of random information and you're trying to tell a story after the facts and you're doing facepalms going, "Why didn't I ask that question? Why didn't I get an opening statement from the person? Why didn't I get a really good hard resolution that hits with a bang so that the end of my show really has purpose?" They should know the objective of that. So you get them to say that statement instead of having to try to figure out how to make it happen. So you do a lot of homework first. You should never walk in blank. Other things that people might be doing. Weddings and events where you're walking around and it's crazy out there and you just need to get some bunches of little soundbites to tell a story. Maybe you don't know what that story is yet, but you kind of should know what kind of statements you're looking for. If you had a corporate event, what's happening at the event? What was the purpose? What did they get out of the event? Why are you making this video, in the first place? Is it to promote the event next year? And then you're going to be asking questions and getting soundbites about why it was so great this year or that they're coming back. If you're doing a wedding you want to get little soundbites about the bride and the groom. Well, you don't want everybody to just say, "Hi, congratulations." Because that gets boring after the third person who says that. So maybe you're going to go up and say, "Can you give me a 30-second story about when you met the bride or when you met the groom?" So you're giving them a perspective about what you want them to talk about because people don't know. If you just walk in and say, "Hi, I want to interview you. Do you know the bride?" And they go, "Yeah." It's not really a good question because they don't know where to go. You need to control the situation. You need to guide them so that they will give you a response that you can use. And we're going to talk a little bit about also developing rapport so that it doesn't become just like throwing a question, getting an answer, run and go. Because that is not what's going to make a good story. That's what's not going to make a good interview. And there's a lot of different challenges. If you had an event, these people might be nervous. If you're doing a man-on-the-street, how do you approach them? How do you relate to them? What about kids? Kids. You interview kids differently. And think about this. Kids aren't just a generic, anybody under 16 or whatever. How do you deal with little kids? How do you deal with teenagers? College people? Somebody who is your peer? Pear. I'm hungry. Random and hungry. If anybody's ever seen hungry and stuff. So those are some of the things that we need to attack. And we're going to come back to those people. And I'll talk about how I approach those different folks because it's a different mindset depending on what you want to get. So, we talked a little bit about what your concerns are. I hopefully have approached some of the kind of things you're looking to create. Is there anything I might have missed? Is there any other kind of interview you've thought you needed to do? I can hear you nodding. it's very good. The wind is in here. So, we talked about what is your story? Who is your audience? Again, it follows in with what is your story. In other words, are you targeting this for people on the web who you are trying to catch their attention? Is it somebody who wants to keep coming back to your website because they find that it's really interesting meeting these chefs? Is it somebody you need to motivate to contact you because they're interested in a house and they're excited because you've talked to people in the neighborhood and they like those people? So, who is your audience? Because it helps you tell your story. This is the important homework you need to do. You don't just run out there and say, "Oh, I'll talk about to a bunch of people and I'll figure it out." It will be a nightmare because you're trying to create a story out of random stuff. You should have an idea. When you're going to interview something. This is not the man on the street. Research your subject. Do your homework Before you go interview somebody. Ifbyou're going to go to a restaurant and talk to a chef, should you just say, "Hi, I'm coming to the restaurant and I want to do an interview for my blog. Is a good time?" And they're like, "Yeah, come in at 7:00. It's fine." Get there at 7:00, dinner rush. It's like, "I can't talk to you right now. I'll give you a couple minutes." They don't know who you are. It's like, "Fine. Let's get this over with. Get the guy out of here." It's not going work. What you should do is not only figure out a good time. If you know that when this person won't be rushed, but who is this person? Anybody you interview, you find out who they are, you've chosen them a lot of times, and then you should research them. The web is an amazing thing. See if they have a bio on the web. See if they have a web page talking about their restaurant, talking about their business, their company. You found this person. Find out about them before you go in because the goal of doing or the objective that you need to remember is you are developing a rapport with the person, you're engaging them in a conversation, and you're getting the soundbites that you want. So, the big thing is relating to the person. So you go, you read about them, you get a little bit of their history. I did that just now at the beginning of the class. We did it very briefly because we didn't have a lot of time. But I talked to each one of you and I tried to find out something about you. And it doesn't matter whether it was in relationship to what I'm going to be talking about on the interview because I don't care about that yet. I want to find out about you. What makes you tick? Why did you come to this class? What's your motivation for doing an interview? Because now we can start having a conversation. And if I talk to you as a person who cares about who you are and what you're doing, you're going to relate back to me. It's not going to be like question-answer, question-answer. So that's important. And that's something you have to keep in mind during the entire process. So if you know something about somebody and you come, and you do some research, and you read about them on the web. You read their bio, you look at them on LinkedIn, you look at them on Facebook. No, this is not stalking. This is research. A lot of things out there. And don't just think about researching about specifically their job that you're going to interview them on. Read about, "Oh, I love their Facebook page. They like to ski. They scuba. They have kids. They went to Uruguay." I'm reading stuff. And what I'm doing is I'm looking for things that I can use to connect with them. Things that maybe I have done or things that I want to do. That's the key thing. So, if I'm reading on somebody's Facebook page that they just came back from a scuba trip. When I actually go and finally meet them I'll say, "I was looking at your web page." I'll admit that." You shouldn't sound like, "I secretly found out." No. "I looked at your Facebook page and I saw you scuba dive. I've always wanted to scuba dive. Tell me about it." I need to talk to you as a restaurant chef, right? Why am I asking about scuba diving? Because I'm trying to build rapport. We're having a conversation. It's going to relax the person. You get to know the person. If you never scuba-dived, did you hear what I said, "I've always wanted to scuba dive." And the key is be sincere. Don't be like, "Oh, I've wanted to scuba dive." No. Find something that you like that you can relate to because you will start creating a conversation. And that's important. It does a lot of things. Not only does it create an environment where the people are comfortable. You start a conversation, you get into that kind of relaxed atmosphere. But in addition to that, it shows that you're interested in them as a person. And now you can get what you want. You can dovetail that into the interview. But it's important to do that. So that's one thing that I might do to build rapport in advance. You might also do a pre-interview. You picked out the person. You've considered, "I want to work with this chef. I want to work with this employee." And if the opportunity presents itself, pick up the phone. If they're willing to do it, Facetime them, perhaps. And just say, "I thought we'd have a little chit-chat. I want to do a few things. I want to kind of tell you what my objective is, why we're coming to interview you and some of the things I'm going to say. And I want to know if you have any questions. Do have you have any concerns? This might be new to you, have you interviewed a lot?" And while you're doing that interview, again, you're building a dynamic, you're getting to know the person, they're getting to know you. And this is really important because the moment you arrive on set you've already established that. You don't have to worry about that at the beginning. You just have to continue that relationship that you're doing. It doesn't have to be a five-hour conversation. You don't have to become pen pals. You don't have start tweeting to each other. But if you have the opportunity, and this can be anywhere from a few minutes, if that's all the time they have, to it might be a half hour conversation. Because the half-hour conversation might be, "These are some of the areas I want to talk to you about. Tell me a little bit about why you became a chef. Tell me a little bit about why you chose to create this business." And you start talking to them as a conversation. Ask questions. Because what you're doing is not only developing rapport, you're getting an idea of things they can talk about because you already have answers going in and you can design questions to elicit those answers. So that's one of the key things. And when you're doing the interview maybe there was a great story they told. Maybe you're talking to a World War II vet. There's not a lot of them left. And they tell you this great story about something that happened to them. And then you're sitting down to interview them and you're like, "That's a great story." And if they don't talk about it you're like, "You know, when we were on the phone, you told me this great story that really, really touched me. Let's talk about that again." And again, you know where you're going with it. You have an idea of what they're going to say, and it's not just, "Oh, I hope I'm lucky." Like, "Oh, let me sit down. Do you have any stories from when you were in World War II?" And if they go, "Hmm..." you go, "Remember when we were on the phone?" So it's great if you can do that. You can't get everything. In an ideal world, you can find a person on Facebook. You can do the long interview, they'll give you all the secret answers. Everything works perfect. It's bits and pieces. And every interview, every experience is going to be different. But these are things you can keep in your satchel that you can pull out. I've never used the word satchel before. Just popped into my head. Your briefcase, your backpack. There we go, we're relating to everybody. So, you're taking notes, you have an idea. You start reconstructing your story based upon the interview or interviews because your program might be about multiple people in the company or in the place you're doing it. So you're saying, "Okay, I have an objective. I know we want to tell a certain story. These are the three or four people I may be talking to. I'll talk to each one of them. And as I find out more about the individuals, I'll start redoing my story based upon their experiences. I'm not trying to shoehorn them into a certain position into my show because that won't be natural. I'm going to use their experiences and my objective together to tell a story and use their experiences and their story." And that's important. Because you don't want to sit there to say, put words in their mouth, they spit out. It's stilted. It doesn't breathe. There's no passion there. There should be passion. And that's going to make it work.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Rough Cut of Blair Stocker Interview
Location Considerations

Ratings and Reviews


I found this course very helpful and I recommend it. I picked up a lot of tips, and frankly this course made me realize that putting more preparation into client interactions AND using a more sophisticated production pays off in higher quality video. I wish he had gone into more detail on microphones and camera gear but I can pick that up on review sites.

Jess Connor

At first, I felt like the class was difficult to get into during the "live" instruction but quickly found after the first few classes that the information was extremely valuable. Maybe it was just me- maybe it just wasn't my style at first. I absolutely would recommend this class to anyone interested in learning interview or basic film skills. It's brilliant!

Geo Wright

Abba was great at explaining why you would do a specific thing in an interview and also the editing as well. Well worth watching.

Student Work