One common question when preparing for an interview is whether or not the interviewee will be able to see the questions ahead of time. This week we are looking at a question from a student about how to prepare an interviewee.

STUDENT QUESTION: Should you send the interviewee the questions ahead of time?

JOHN-CLAY: I don’t recommend giving them the list of questions that you want to ask specifically. I do recommend that you give them an overall idea of what you’re trying to do, the overall direction. Such as, I want to know how you got started, I want to know why you do it, I want to know what you like to do. Who benefits from the service you guys provide, just kind of the general idea and they’re usually like, “Oh okay. That’s not too hard, I can do that.” 

The reason is I want their answers to be candid, I want it to be kind of off the cuff for them. And it just feels more natural.

I want it to be kind of off the cuff for them. And it just feels more natural. Click To Tweet

I worked on a project where they sent everybody a list of questions. Sometimes it worked well, but we had a lot of times where it did not. People had written out their answers and were so hung up on saying exactly the right thing, it was a disaster. It took so long to interview. 

The point is sometimes they’ll be nervous about it and they’re like well I don’t know what you’re gonna say. I say, “Look, we just want you to be honest, we want you to just be natural, we want your honest responses and trust me we’ll go in and we’ll pick out just the best parts. It’s okay if you kind of fumble around, I understand that’s what I’m asking for and that’s okay. I’m gonna edit, we’ll make you look good, don’t worry about it.”

That’s what they want to know, that’s what I want to know because I don’t like being in front of the camera either. I’m just like, “Oh it’s gonna be such a mess, it’s not gonna be concise. It’s not gonna be put together.” 

We know. That’s okay. We’ll put it all together, that’s why we’re filming B roll, we’ll make you look good, don’t worry about it. And usually that helps. 

Ken Carpenter has said that if it’s at all possible he doesn’t send questions ahead of time. He said he has sometimes it’s high profile type people, they have power, they wanna know stuff. Or the secretary needs to know or something. He does send it on occasion, but if he can help it he tries not to.

They can say it again if they don't like how they said. They don't need to feel the pressure to say it right the first time. Click To Tweet

ANDREW: Usually people’s biggest concern is just how old they’re going to come across. They don’t understand it’s not TV. You’re not just saying it and then you can’t change anything afterwards. They can say it again if they don’t like how they said. They don’t need to feel the pressure to say it right the first time.

Bethany Meckle

Bethany Meckle

Content Curator

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