Whether they’re providing information for an article, or content for podcasts, videos, radio and standalone transcripts, interviews offer a great opportunity to probe topics deeply and capture the voice and thoughts of campaigners, researchers and others.
The Commons Library held a skill session, How to Conduct Interviews, in August 2022. Iain McIntyre spoke with Nicky Stott, long-time Earthmatters producer and Community Radio 3CR trainer. Nicky discussed their experiences with preparing, conducting and producing entertaining and informative interviews. The podcast below includes excerpts from the conversation which offer suggestions and tips on a range of subjects including:
- Researching topics
- Choosing and contacting interviewees
- Writing questions
- Structuring and steering interviews
- Developing rapport
- Supporting interviewees when covering sensitive issues
- Obtaining and selecting equipment on different budgets
- Capturing clear audio on different devices
- Doing soundchecks
Listen to Podcast
Community Radio 3CR Interview Checklist
Here is an interview checklist created by trainers at Community Radio 3CR, and mentioned in the interview.
Choosing your topic:
- Consider your target audience
- Research your topic
- Develop an angle / approach
- Draft a list of key points
- Contact your potential interviewee & have a chat
- Check that they’re a good speaker and the right person to interview
- Refine your interview angle based on what you learn from the chat
- Brief your interviewee on what to expect:
- Purpose of interview
- Time and date
- Key points for discussion
- Never hand over a list of exact Qs
- Book recording equipment & or studio
- Draft an interview brief (introduction, 1st question, list of bullet points or subsequent questions & back announcement)
- Check they are in logical sequence
- Consider how the interview should end.
- Check recording equipment before the interview
During the interview:
- Ask them to state their name and position for the record so you get the pronunciation correct
- Respond with natural questions
- Keep quiet while the interviewee is talking
- Keep an eye on the levels
- Keep focused
- Keep to time
- Look for a good out point
- Wrap it up
- Thank your guest
After a pre-recorded interview:
- Save your interview file immediately.
- Check that interview recorded correctly – repeat if necessary
- Edit for a natural / smooth sound
- Note the duration, first and last words
- Change the scripted intro if necessary
Structuring your Interview
Listen to a range of interviews and use this checklist to decide if the interviewer does the following:
- Does it catch the listeners’ attention?
- Does it sound scripted?
- Does it introduce the topic clearly?
- Does it introduce the speaker clearly?
- Does it get straight to the point?
- Are there “settling down” questions?
- Ask one question at a time?
- Are the key issues or focus of the interview identified?
- Following through on the introduction?
- Listener friendly?
- Is there rapport with the speaker?
- Control without domination?
- Are there “unasked questions” for you?
- Is there a reminder during the interview of the guest’s name?
- Not too sudden or abrupt?
- Not too long or too short?
- Ended on a strong note?
- Back announced with details and summary
- 3CR Community Radio and 3CR Earth Matters
- Listening to the artivists: Podcasts about activism and the arts
- Conducting Interviews for Articles, Research & More
- ChangeMaker Chats – The ChangeMakers podcast interviews people who are striving for social change across the world
Thanks to the John T Reid Charitable Trust for their generous support with this and the Commons Library’s other Skills Sessions.