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  • Hans Weston

A video lens is scary... abyss of glass that sees into your soul.

Add a light, crew and other hangers on, and you have a terrifying situation for someone being interviewed for the first time.


Without the right prep or management….it can end up a total waste of time and video budget.


Sometimes I need to step away from the lens and wear an interviewer hat. 


At first I was outside of my comfort zone, however the more I did it, the more I loved it. I realised that I am naturally curious about other people, and I also like people to feel comfortable around me. 


I have been able to use these qualities to conduct many interviews, some of which have extended up to an hour. 


I ended up building a process around conducting interviews that works exceptionally well for me. 


The hardest part of interviewing is guiding people to a place where they will be expressive and share an interesting story. 


If people are regurgitating rehearsed and scripted lines, their answers will sound rehearsed and scripted. 


Those sort of answers don’t inspire people, retain people’s attention or move them to action. To feel fully engaged, we need to hear stories and we need to feel emotion. 


In the corporate video production space, a lot of time can be wasted with “quick interviews” that are flat, boring, and uninteresting.


No real long term value. A total waste of  time and budget. 


We all desire real stories. It’s in our DNA.


We are storytellers. All of us. 

The most overlooked stage of the interviewing process is the pre-interview.


This stage is very valuable, if someone is being interviewed for the first time.

This allows for a relaxed conversation to take place around the subject matter without pressure or expectation.


This stage acts like an ice-breaker and story finding mission for the interviewer. 


Shoving someone cold in front of the camera, especially if they have never been interviewed on camera before, will result in stilted “rabbit caught in the spotlight” answers. 


The editor will be left grappling with rushed and mispronounced words. 


The viewer will feel this and the real point of the story won’t hit home. Opportunities are lost. 


I can’t stress enough the importance of the pre-interview. 

The pre-interview is really more like a conversation. It’s where people can be honest and frank about their thoughts without feeling judged and censoring themselves.


 People are always going to think - “how can I articulate myself in a way that I sound smart or interesting” Take the camera away, and they’ll be less self conscious and more themselves. 


The pre interview is a chance to explore what kind of answers they may give and what stories they may have hiding away.


 There is no time pressure, no lights, no cameras and no colleagues hanging around with notepads making sure you say the right things. 


During the conversation, I make notes and story points. I will sometimes record the audio of conversation on my phone and create a transcription, from here I can create a set of interview questions that act as prompts for the filmed interview. 


When we meet for the recorded interview, a relationship of trust and confidence has been established. I try to keep the conversational approach we already have.


 The interviewee is usually more expressive and relaxed, and we both know what we are doing and what the expectations are.


The time between the pre interview and filmed interview also allows the interviewee to reflect  on what other things they can say, without post interview regret like “oh I wish I said” or “I forgot to tell this story” 


This process also saves a lot of time during the filming and editing. We can avoid the unnecessary story points and focus on the important part.


We can map out the video structure ahead of time, and work out precisely what b roll we need. 

Pre interview conversations can be carried out over phone, video chat or in person. 

Of course, there are several other important factors that go into conducting a great interview. However conducting pre interviews has worked a treat for me. 


Pre interviews break the ice, establish trust and uncover stories that convey some sense of emotion.

 Excitement, happiness, sadness, whatever it is that helps to tell a story and make a point. 


This also allows for more evergreen content that can be repurposed, because people always love stories, and stories never die. 


Value and uncover the real story. 


People = emotion


Emotion  = engagement 


Engagement  = action 

Action = results

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