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3 BIGGEST Mistakes Interviewers Make

By Adam Bush on January 31, 2018

Ever got a raw interview back to the editing suite and realized you just don’t have what you needed? There are a plethora of reasons this could happen. The story might not be as compelling as you felt before, maybe the interviewee ultimately didn’t communicate super well, OR the interview got hijacked by one of THREE huge mistakes I’ve made and seen others do as well. What are they? I’m glad you asked.

1. You Fail to Prepare the Room

You’re not shooting a commercial for Sonic (or whatever fast food place you’re suddenly hungry for). You need this to be warm. Inviting warmth into the room as soon as you arrive is paramount. When we forget to introduce the storytelling lead to the crew, chat up about the day, and CLEARLY lay out what’s happening over the next couple of hours, you bring confusion and moments of question. It can be difficult for your storyteller to be vulnerable when they’re wondering what’s happening next.

2. You Stop Mid-Shoot

Often, during the interview, something unfavorable happens. Maybe the light in the room adjusts a bit, or the lead starts slouching. What you want to do is say, “Hold on, can we adjust this thing or whatever.” The problem is you’re breaking the momentum of what’s happening and changing the air in the room. So, avoid this at all costs.

“But, Adam, what if one of those things actually happens?” We have a rule on set. The crew never stops the shoot. Instead, I keep my phone on my lap, on do not disturb. They know to text me and when I can, I will find a good, non-invasive moment to adjust whatever is needed. (Sidebar, allow someone else to adjust the thing if it’s lighting or set related. You stay seated, keeping eyes locked, conversation moving.)

3. You Cut off the Storyteller Mid-Thought

I’ve done this enough times that it’s embarrassing. Here’s what happens: You’re rounding into hour two of an intense interview and your lead takes a moment to pause and think. It’s easy, especially if they’re going on a tangent you don’t specifically need, to cut them off and steer them in a different direction. The problem with this is YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S COMING NEXT. So many times I’ve been able to endure those moments and…almost accidentally…ended up with pure gold. Stay the course.

Inevitably, there will be shoots that go awry and interviews you won’t be able to use but avoid the mistakes above, and I promise, you’re going to have fewer experiences of disaster as you continue to tell stories of life change.

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