In my short career, I have conducted between 750 and one thousand on-camera interviews. Most of them with faculty members or higher education administrators. I don’t claim to be a journalist – what I do isn’t journalism. I excel at getting the right quote to be said on-camera and then presenting it in a way that is compelling to a lay audience.
So what is the secret to doing good interviews?
Find out what it is that your subject does for a living, and then care about that thing.
Their work might be career-defining research that is changing people’s lives. It might be washing windows on the side of university buildings. It really doesn’t matter. If you communicate care and interest in how they spend their time, they will open up to you. They will start talking. Even if they hate their job and wish they were doing something else. Value their work, and they will value the time you spend together.
Not every interview is going to be a home run. There will be times when you just can’t get the quote you need or the message you want. But this one technique will always make the interview better.
Honor the person you are interviewing by honoring what they invest their time in. And they will honor you with better quotes, better posture, and a better countenance on-camera.