Interview Workshop


Published on | The aim of this session is to instruct participants in obtaining informed consent on camera as well as familiarizing them with interview techniques and technical considerations needed for shooting an interview. Basic concepts will be introduced and facilitators will work with participants in recording an interview exercise.

WITNESS Training Curriculum - Part of module 3

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  • Materials Needed for Exercise Projector with Speakers One complete camera package for every three people. One complete camera package for demonstration Reference Sheet 3.07- Interview Tip-sheet Worksheet 3.07 Interview Exercise Worksheet Time: 1 hr 50 min
  • Learn as much as you can about the person before the interview and plan a general outline of questions. Use your prepared questions as a guide but feel free to explore new lines of questioning. Find a location with good lighting and sound to conduct your interview. If possible choose a location that has some relevance to the issue that will be dealt with in the video. Having to speak about a trauma can retrigger the painful memories and feelings. The interviewee should never be pressured to speak if he/she is unwilling to do so. Conduct the interview in a secure location and protect anonymity when requested.
  • Establish rapport with the interviewee. Take the time to explain your project and the interview process. Provide the opportunity for the interviewee to ask any questions. Make sure there are no distracting noises in the background. Unplug any machines that may vibrate or hum in the background. Ask for those nearby to remain silent. Don’t feel rushed. Make sure your happy with the shot you composed before you start recording. Before any interview begins ALWAYS record consent.
  • Reference Consent Handout*** Provide Context on Camera Record the names of the interviewer/camera operator. Provide a detailed description of the event, including the date and location.   Record Consent on Camera Introduce yourself and your organization. Explain your project, the issues being discussed, where the video will possibly be screened and to whom.   Sample questions: Would you please state your full name and spell your full name for the record? Do you understand what we are doing? Please, in your own words, explain. Do you consent to your interview being included in this project and used in public video screenings, the Internet and in print? Do you know who may see the final video? Are there any restrictions to using the information you provide us with or video itself that we need to be aware of? Are you aware that you can stop the interview at anytime? *** Do not record names if there are security concerns
  • Remember that you are aiming to get your interviewee to give full and complete answers that you can use to tell your story. Avoid questions that will elicit short answers.
  • Open questions like “Tell me about…?” are good for getting more complete answers. The more details a interviewee can provide the more useful the interview will be. Examples: Can you tell me about what happened to you on the night of the protest? Please explain what happened when the police arrived?
  • In most interviews the interviewer will remain out of view. During an edit your questions will be removed from the video as it would appear strange to hear the voice of a person who is not visible. Therefore it is important to have your interviewee place the questions in their answers. Explain to your interviewee how to incorporate your questions into their answers. For example: Question—How long have you worked at this center? Answer—Five years. This will be hard to edit. Instead you should ask your interviewee to say: Question—How long have you worked at this center? Answer—I have worked at this centre for over five years.
  • For editing purposes its ideal to have space before and after an answer. Instruct interviewees to give a short pause before responding to a question and likewise allow space before asking your next question. Never talk over your interviewee. Always keep silent during the interview. Interviewers who continually give encouraging sounds to their interviewee like, “Aha” or “I see” make it harder to edit the material. Be careful not to interrupt and disrupt their flow of conversation. Do not be afraid to stop the interview if you are experiencing technical problems or if there is distracting noise in the background. Ask your interviewee to repeat an answer if it unclear. Always ask your interviewee at the end if there is anything else that they would like to say, and that you haven’t addressed.
  • Lighting is often better outdoors but you may experience background noise or wind distortion. Its important that ambient sound is as consistent as possible throughout an interview. It is easier to control background noise while filming indoors but you may not always have enough light. While filming indoors prepare the room to make it as bright as possible. It is best to use a tripod to record your interview and always wear headphones. Use a lavaliere microphone to achieve the best possible audio. Make sure that the microphone is not obstructed by any clothing and will not be disturbed by any possible movement of your interviewee.
  • Reference participant handouts as a guide for this exercise.
  • Interview Workshop

    1. 1. Interview Workshop WITNESS invites you to use, remix and share this curriculum.  All materials are under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial ShareAlike 3.0 License.  You can also find more video advocacy training materials at 
    2. 2. Objective <ul><li>Familiarize participants with </li></ul><ul><li>interviewing strategies throughout </li></ul><ul><li>pre-production and production. </li></ul>12/13/11
    3. 3. In This Session <ul><ul><li>Preparing for an interview </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to record informed consent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewing techniques that will provide the best answers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical concerns to consider while conducting an interview </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The completion of a hands on interviewing / camera exercise </li></ul></ul>12/13/11
    4. 4. Conducting an Interview -Preproduction- <ul><li>Conduct pre-interviews. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a list of questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Find a suitable location. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep your interviewees’ well-being and safety a priority. </li></ul>12/13/11
    5. 5. Conducting an Interview -Production- <ul><li>Make sure your interviewee is comfortable and prepare them. </li></ul><ul><li>Quiet the room. </li></ul><ul><li>Compose your shot and make sure you’re happy with it. </li></ul><ul><li>Record Consent. </li></ul>12/13/11
    6. 6. Recording Informed Consent <ul><li>Unless there are security risks, always record full names. </li></ul><ul><li>Introduce yourself and describe the purpose of your project. </li></ul><ul><li>Explain where the interview may be screened and who may see it. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask your interview if they understand and if they give their permission to be recorded. </li></ul>12/13/11
    7. 7. Avoid Yes or No Answers <ul><li>Don’t ask: </li></ul><ul><li>Are the living conditions in the refugee </li></ul><ul><li>camp bad? </li></ul><ul><li>Ask: </li></ul><ul><li>Please describe the living conditions in </li></ul><ul><li>the refugee camp. </li></ul>12/13/11
    8. 8. Open Ended Questions <ul><li>Can you tell me about… </li></ul><ul><li>Please explain… </li></ul><ul><li>Please describe your experience. </li></ul><ul><li>How did that make you feel? </li></ul>12/13/11
    9. 9. Question in the Answer <ul><li>Question: </li></ul><ul><li>“ How long have you worked at the </li></ul><ul><li>center?” </li></ul><ul><li>Answer: </li></ul><ul><li>“ I have worked at this center for five </li></ul><ul><li>years.” </li></ul>12/13/11
    10. 10. Keep in Mind <ul><li>Allow space between questions and answers. </li></ul><ul><li>Visual response: never talk over your interviewee. </li></ul><ul><li>Repeat a question if necessary. </li></ul><ul><li>Always give your interviewee the last word. </li></ul>12/13/11
    11. 11. Technical Concerns <ul><li>Shooting outdoors will usually provide better lighting. </li></ul><ul><li>Shooting indoors will usually produce better sound. </li></ul><ul><li>Use a tripod! Wear headphones! </li></ul><ul><li>Clip on microphones provide better sound. </li></ul><ul><li>Record room tone. </li></ul>12/13/11
    12. 12. What is Room Tone? 12/13/11 Follow this link to listen to an audio example of room tone: Room Tone is the &quot;silence&quot; recorded at a location or space when  no  dialogue is spoken. In an edit, Room Tone is intercut with  dialogue  to smooth out any sound edit points.
    13. 13. What are “Talking Hands”? 12/13/11 “ Talking hands” cutaways are close ups of the interviewees hands as they are gesturing while they speak. Record “talking hands” at the end of an interview while your interviewee is responding to a question that is not important to your video. Follow this link to view an example of talking hands:
    14. 14. Interview Exercise 60 minutes <ul><li>Roles </li></ul><ul><li>In groups of three each participant should </li></ul><ul><li>take turns performing the following three </li></ul><ul><li>roles: </li></ul><ul><li>Camera Person: Records the interview </li></ul><ul><li>Interviewer: Conducts the interview </li></ul><ul><li>Interviewee: Responds to the questions   </li></ul>12/13/11
    15. 15. Interview Exercise 60 minutes <ul><li>Each participant will: </li></ul><ul><li>Choose a member of their production team to interview. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a list of five open ended questions based on their interviewees human rights work. </li></ul><ul><li>Record consent. </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct an interview. </li></ul><ul><li>Record room tone </li></ul><ul><li>Film a “talking hands” cutaway </li></ul>12/13/11
    16. 16. Summary <ul><li>Spend time during pre-production to find the best people to interview </li></ul><ul><li>Record informed consent before every interview </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid yes or no answers </li></ul><ul><li>Always as open ended questions </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure the question is in the answer </li></ul><ul><li>Keep technical considerations in mind while recording interviews </li></ul>12/13/11
    17. 17. Interview Workshop WITNESS invites you to use, remix and share this curriculum.  All materials are under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial ShareAlike 3.0 License.  You can also find more video advocacy training materials at