The Key To Success
The single most important driver of a successful recorded interview is an understanding of your goals as an interviewer. To begin, it helps to recognize that there are five types of interview. We've defined them as the 5 interview lessons interview types:
A testimonial style interview is one where the goal is to record a client or customer expressing satisfaction with your services or product. Most often your interview subject is not used to being on camera. The challenge is to get the exact content you're looking for while making sure it feels comfortable and natural.
These are most often heard in podcasts or talk shows. In the conversational interview, the audience is as interested in hearing the guest as they are the host. The challenge here is to build rapport, to think on your feet, and keep a good sense of balance between remarks, questions, and follow-ups.
In this style interview, the goal is discovery. You don't know where the interview will lead and are only interested in following the natural flow of discovery. For this, the most important skill is deep listening and curiosity.
The journalistic or documentary interview is one in which you don't already know the answers, but you do know exactly what you hope to learn. For this interview, you will want to have a solid outline and strategy in place before you begin. You may need to pause and check your notes to be sure you and your guest stay on track. For this style interview, the biggest challenge is to keep the guest on track and make sure you get the information you are looking for on tape.
In a story focused interview your guest has a story to tell. Most likely something they have achieved or endured. Your job is to facilitate the telling of a rich full tale. You are the guide to help elicit detail, fill in gaps and keep the story moving.
For each style interview, your tactics will differ, and I'll dive into each in detail in future articles.
As different as they are, before you approach your guest be sure you know exactly what you are looking to achieve.
I'll leave you with a final thought from interviewer Terry Gross: "I learned that I never really know the true story of my guests' lives, that I have to content myself with knowing that when I'm interviewing somebody, I'm getting a combination of fact and truth and self-mythology and self-delusion and selective memory and faulty memory."
We'll be digging into each type of interview in future articles. Join our email list and we'll notify you when they publish.
Become a better interviewer
Download 4 keys to better interviews