Whether you’re conducting an on-air television interview for a news story or taping one for a talk show, there are a few TV interview tips you should keep in mind when sitting down in front of your subjects:

Photo by Christina Morillo

1. Know your subject

Do your pre-interview homework before sitting down to ask someone questions.
Know their credentials or background, research their expertise, and be aware of controversial discussion topics.

2. Prep your subject

The interviewee should have the chance to prepare for the questions in advance. While you don’t usually need to provide a complete list of specific interview questions, you can outline a general idea or topics covered. You want an element of spontaneity without catching your subject completely off-guard.

3. Start slow

Make a list of the information you want to glean from this interview, and slowly work your way towards it by asking simple questions. Interviews can be emotional, and hammering people with ‘gotcha-style’ questioning or asking the tough questions too soon can cause the interviewee to feel uncomfortable, especially if this is their first TV interview.

4. Use active listening

Use your body language to indicate your attention and focus on the person you’re interviewing. Letting your interviewee talk and tell their story with minimal guidance is the ideal way to conduct your interview. You want your audience to see a person freely sharing their story, product, experience, or knowledge—not someone being prodded for sound bites.

5. Ask open-ended questions

Ask follow-up questions to gain more information from your subject, but rather than searching for ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, ask questions that will lead to a story or an emotional
share. For instance, “how did you feel when you sold an album for the first time?” Or, “when did you realize you wanted to be a doctor?”