The Interviewer

When interviewing somebody there’s a couple of good tips that it might be useful for you to bear in mind. These tips are given for filmed interviews, but many of them also goes for audio interviews.

Before the interview
Before you are going to interview people make a risk assessment for the interviewees.

  • Comfort the interviewee.
  • Explain what the purpose of the interview is.
  • Interviewing a group of people all at once is likely to be chaotic. The best thing to do is to ask individuals if they can be interviewed separately. Politely ask the others to shut up for the duration of the filming.
  • If people do not want their face to be filmed ask them if you can film their hands.
  • If you have the feeling that the situation is too tense, do not film the people even if they attempt to reassure you.
  • If people do not want to give a statement, thank them and leave.
  • Ask the interviewee where he or she wants to be interviewed.
  • Ask the person who is doing the filming if they are ready.
  • If you are doing both the filming and the interviewing, take a comfortable position for the filming. Then explain to the interviewee that you sometimes must look to check if the camera is ready though the person can talk on.

During the interview

  • Speak loudly and clearly.
  • Stand or sit up straight. You will project, and feel, more confidence.
  • Do not take a position in which you are higher then the interviewee.
  • Keep your eyes on the interviewee. Avoid looking at the camera unless asked to. Don’t wear sunglasses.
  • Try not to move your head back and forth very much or wiggle around in your seat. This doesn’t mean you need to be stiff, just steady. This makes the interviewee less restless.
  • Always leave a pause between the answer and the next question.This is important for editing.
  • Do not say “hmm” or make any other noise when the interviewee is answering. That makes the sound clearer and easier to edit.

The questions
To ask the right questions at the interview can be a hard task. It might be good idea for you to write down a couple of key questions before the interview. We’ve written down a couple of questions to inspire you. When talking about the questions it’s a good idea to:

  • One question is one question. Avoid combined questions as in: “are you affected by the construction of the pipeline and did you get compensation?” Just ask one question at a time.
  • Avoid questions that can be answered by yes or no. Do not ask questions which are too limited like: “are you affected by the construction of the pipeline?” Some people tend to answer with “yes” and that’s it.
  • Do not ask questions which are too wide like: “what happened?”
  • Try to get the answer you want and if you are not totally satisfied by the answer rephrase the question.
    To interview someone is

  • Direct the answer but do not influence it. You are the interviewer, you know what you want in the film so direct the answer towards that.
  • Follow the answer up. An interview is not a list of questions. You have to build a story. E.g. “What kind of compensation did you get from the company?” “I received 200 dollar.” “Is that covering all your costs?” “No.” “What would be a reasonable compensation?” You should try to build a story with the questions that you need to make a testimony in your mind.
  • If people tend to talk fast, slow them down. Do not interrupt them but if they are ready, divert them with a new question that requires a slower answer. Ask the interviewee to slow down if necessary.
  • If people give very long answers break them up. So do not interrupt them but let them speak the first time. Then pick out the element you want to focus on and ask them the question again with the focus.
  • The clearer you are the clearer the interviewee is. So stay focussed during the interview even if the interviewee is distracted.
  • If you work with a interpreter ask them to translate the answer as quickly as possible so that you can ask for clarification. Also take your time with the lines of the interpreter.

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