Interview Techniques For Radio

Your website shouldn’t just be a reading information portal; you need to get video and audio posted with quick and easy knowledge, which is interesting and creatively communicated. So don’t write it, record it. Here’s how to do it effectively.

How do you get a really good interview?

The aim is to provide, in the interviewee’s own words, facts, reasons and opinions so the listener can form a conclusion. Questions and answers are for the benefit of the eavesdropping audience. The interview is:

  • Not a discussion – no pitting opinions against your own, no commenting on answers, and never use the word ‘I’
  • A spontaneous event– Hints of rehearsal damage the interviewee’s credibility. Don’t tell the interview the question before hand – only general issues
  • For the audience– Ask what the listener would want to ask, so know the listener and have them in mind

3 types of interview questions

  • Facts – Check they are right before the interview starts
  • Reasons/explanations – question the reasoning; make sure the explanation is clear to the audience. Investigate the reaction to the facts, asking for examples to illustrate the points where appropriate.
  • Emotive interview – an insight into the interviewee’s state of mind – the strength of feeling is more important than the rational.
  • The manner of asking is as important as the content of the question. Be sensitive but not overly caring, impartial but not indifferent.

Top journalism tips

  • Be balanced and unbiased
  • Know the audience and keep them in mind
  • Know the subject you’re interviewing on
  • Think about the agenda of the interviewee
  • Take an alternative approach – What are the opposing views?
  • Beware of assumptions – would the audience assume that?
  • Treat people with respect – make the most of who they are
  • Challenge people, so they think more sharply

Interview Preparation

  • Know what you want to achieve and the main point to be covered. Facts, reasons, emotive insight?
  • Establish the facts for questions – names, dates, figures and facts.
  • Know the counter arguments of the topic.
  • Write questions but don’t ask them irrespective of the response.
  • Establish a relationship with your interviewee

Recording interviews

Take a pre-recording before the interview and listen back to the results on headphones. You can use this time to make sure you have the person’s correct name and title on the tape, but also ask an unrelated question so you can hear a natural sentence.

  • Use non-verbal communication such as eye contact and facial expressions – avoid verbal acknowledgement.
  • Monitor the recording – listen to the recording. Be aware of sound changes and change microphone position when necessary.
  • Keep the aims of the interview in mind and keep it on track.
  • Listen for the supplementary question – it’s important you’re not so preoccupied with the next question; you don’t concentrate on the answer.
  • Keep to timings – where you need a 3 minute interview don’t record 20 minutes.
  • Ask for action and explanation where possible and be prepared to change position to gain the best recording.

Questioning technique

7 Basic questions – who/when/where/ what/how/which/why

The best is why – it is revealing of the interviewee, it asks for an explanation and value judgement. e.g. why did you decide…? Why do you think …?

  • Only ask reversed verb question if you want a yes or know answer. Are you? Is it? Do you?
  • Don’t confuse with long, rambling or multiple questions
  • Listen to the answer
  1. clarify where necessary
  2. ask for examples of what they mean
  3. lead from their line of thought to where you want to go
  4. Play ‘devils advocate’ to challenge assumptions


  • Thank the interviewee.
  • Check the recording.
  • Rerecord where appropriate.

Good luck – let me know how you get on, or even better post me the results.

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