AT Interview Lessons we've developed a system of 5 interview styles: testimonial, conversational, curiosity-driven, journalistic, and story focused. Today we're digging into the testimonial style interview.
You'll find other articles telling you what microphone to use, or what digital recorder, but those are just the tools and the tools will keep changing. If you want to get powerful convincing testimonials that will drive new business your way you need to understand the tactics and strategy, the art, of great interviewing.
You ask your customer or client for a testimonial, they say yes but they've never done a recorded interview before. To get good, authentic testimonials the first thing you need to do is help them feel comfortable. Let them know that you are on the same team, your goal is to make them look and sound good because if she looks good, you look good. Next help him understand the process. Do all this in a casual conversation away from the camera or microphone.
It Takes Practice
When someone hasn't been recorded before, they think the polished results they see on TV just happen. If you ask for a second take they think they've failed. Explain BEFORE you start that you'll ask the same questions several times. Let them know that the most seasoned professionals require multiple takes.
This isn't an article about the tech, but once you get to the microphones make sure you cover the basics with your guest - should they look at you or the camera, do you need them to state their name, how should they hold the microphone?
How to Start
You've prepared your guest, now begin with an open-ended question. It's a good way to start. They may have prepared something in anticipation of the recording session, let them get it out. This also gives you a sense of where you're starting and the kinds of feedback they will need. Now you have the rough sketch, it's time to start inking in the details.
Help them Help You
Your client or customer wants to do well, and provide what you need. Give them all the information you can to help them help you. If needed, coach them on the length you'd like the answers to be (do you want a few sentences or a long description of their entire experience?) the kind of audience it's for (should they use layman's terms or is language specific to your industry ok?,) and if there are specific elements of your service or product you'd like them to talk about.
If the answers seem too canned, and you want answers that are more documentary style and conversational, try throwing out a negative statement - "the perfume doesn't smell that great, does it?" Most people will reply with an emphatic positive.
If the answers are too rambling and indirect, suggest that they imagine they are speaking to a co-worker who has never heard of the product, how would they describe it? Or suggest they imagine they are speaking to a classmate who thinks the service is a waste of time, what would they say to convince them?
Get the Mood Right
Don't forget to lead with your energy. If the product is a balloon shop, make sure you smile and show the joy you want expressed. If it's a funeral parlor, show the appropriate level of gravity. Your subject will mirror your energy.
One last piece of advice - don't be afraid to ask for what you need. The testimonial is just as authentic with coaching.
Would you like a testimonial interview worksheet? What other questions do you have about interviewing?
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