To get more info, facts, opinions, make it real, gives more detail to the story, opposing points of view, balance.


5 w’s – who, what, when, where, why and how.

Ask open-ended questions, so the person gives a wordier reply, explanation. Encourage reflexive questions. Answer with a question, so the interview continues. Don’t be afraid to throw in some risky questions but not immediately.

How long should an interview be?

A 4-5 min interview may only give 20-30 seconds of footage. Make longer so can edit later.

Who is the interview for?

Line of questions tailored for audience.


What information are you trying to get? Don’t go into an interview with an agenda (i.e. answers you want pre-empt) Don’t force opinions on to people or put words into their mouths. Be prepared to be surprised.

Know your subject

Need to know the subject inside out before you go into an interview. If you don’t admit it and ask them for their knowledge. ‘I must admit I know very little about…could you please tell me more.’

What platform is the interview for?

Will the interview be live? Is it going to be edited? Full interview, clips, how many? part pf a package? Stand-alone etc. TV, Radio..Youtube…


How much time do you have to conduct the interview, how long with the interviewee. How many questions Can have questions written so you can refer to them. Never give the questions in advance. Needs to be spontaneous and un-rehearsed.

Interview structure

  • Name, spelling, title, how would they like to be addressed, If you don’t already have contact information make sure you get this (before you start the interview)
  • Explain who you are, what and for whom the interview is for, say if it’s live.
  • ‘I am starting to record now.’ N.B. don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want to go out live!
  • Ask them a daft question at first, to check all your equipment is working. Check levels.
  • Keep questions short and to the point. One idea per question.
  • Start with soft questions to make sure you get something recorded.
  • Listen and respond, stay engaged whilst thinking about the next question. Ask them to follow up/expand on their answers.
  • Encounter problems, for example noise, equipment, cars, stuttering ask them to repeat their answer.
  • If people are going on too long put up a hand or signal to indicate must stop or cut. Give them a time limit before the interview and if it’s going on too long say – “I’m really sorry can I just stop you there.” “I’m really sorry that’s all we have time for.”
  • If unexpected response or interview takes a different direction think on your feet and go with it.
  • Ask a person to repeat a question or string two replies together. Could make for an interesting interview.
  • Chameleon language-drop in certain words and phrases that the interviewee will respond to by picking up or adapting to the language.
  • Be assertive, confident and polite. Your attitude will affect the interviewee so try to make it light, friendly, conversational, natural.
  • Never assume MAKE AN ARSE OF ‘U’ AND ‘ME’.


N. B. Remember the three key principles of journalism:

Accuracy, Clarity and Precision.

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