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How to Make an Interview Work for You

Updated on July 29, 2013

Interviewing Tom Hanks

Family Heritage Video Techniques

In a previous hub I discussed what you need to do to set up a successful family heritage video.

There are other steps before you even start the interview. Once you do you need to rely on a method that has been considered such a “secret” that anyone studying the technique had to sign a pledge that the method would only be used for ethical purposes. I learned the techique early on and still use it in my "Heritage Video Company" and I have seen the method used in mainstream books and million dollar motivational seminars so I see no need to keep it a secret.

Neuro Linguistic Programming

But first before you begin your interviews a few basic guidelines;

  • You need to decide how many people you are going to interview in one setting. With limited resources and experience I strongly recommend that you interview one person at a time. If you don’t you are going to get very choppy video with the camera making sudden switches which are disorienting for the viewer and cause you to lose part of what is being said.
  • I gave you guidelines before about using cameras ( for this use, a video camera is preferable to Skye but not absolutely necessary if you have Skype) You may have computer software that contains a camera which is something I just discovered about my computer software
  • You must have a tripod. This is a device on which the camera is mounted. Even TV news crews discovered years ago how much better an interview is when the camera is absolutely steady in a way no person can assure. (With breaking news there is no choice).
  • Choose a place to shoot where the interview subject is comfortable. You must assure no interruptions, yours or the subject’s so no cell phones, phones in the room or any possible interruptions. This may require a locked door or do not disturb sign. It is crucial to have continuity. It takes a while to get the person comfortable in an interview situation; you do not want anything to interrupt.
  • Now for the method. It is called Neuro Linguistic Programming. There are many many facets but I will reduce it to its simplest form and the one I have used for hundreds of interviews from Tom Hanks to Deepak Chopra. It calls for being on the exact same “wave length” as your subject. Psychologists use these techniques to get clients to trust them and hence to change behaviors; Tony Robbins suggests using it to absolutely model the role model of a person whose success you want to emulate or whose skills you want.

Observe & Practice

  • Here is the basic way to start experimenting. Find someone for a conversation. Without saying a word closely observe everything this person does and says. I am talking about the person’s body language, way he or she sits in a chair, holds his head, and then move on to the way the person talks. You are going to absolutely imitate the way the person talks from the kind of phrasing. Some people speak in entire sentences, others in just phrases. What pitch does the person use? How much eye contact does the person use. This calls for intense observation without the person being aware of it. If you are successful when you finally do engage in conversation you are modeling that person. I have had people say “I can’t do that. The person I am copying would be aware of it.” NO, not if you are not overplaying it. The basic tenant is this. In what conversations is the person the most comfortable? The answer is someone who is just like him. I am not talking content because, of course, people don’t want people who repeat what they have just said. Let me give you an example. When I interviewed celebrities and famous people from all walks of life I had to establish this rapport sometimes in minutes. There was no time to establish this rapport. However, you will take time to establish this rapport before starting the interview. Deepak Chopra was due to be in my radio studio for an interview for my talk show but he was running late. That gave his interview a more harried overtone than it might usually have. That meant I had to add a note of intensity to modeling his mannerism. Deepak is a man who is the most comfortable when he is communicating on some kind of spiritual level. His voice is low but he chooses every word he says carefully. Intense eye contact was essential. IN this case I was glad I had done for much homework on Ayurved medicine. It would have been an interruption in this time to look at my notes. This was in the early 90’s and few people were aware of him, his teaching of the melding of body and spirit and the tenants of Ayurved medicine. There was the intensity of a zealot, someone who believes so strongly in these principles he truly wants people to understand the concepts. Not all interview subjects are like that. There are many you have to draw out; they are quiet and seem reluctant to give out any information unless it is the exact talking points the PR man has given him. As an interviewer I had to make the subject so comfortable she is willing to stray from simply pitching her book, her movie or her album. To even venture into personal questions you have to have trust and that means you have to model everything about that person. In my case, I also had to be careful not to ask embarrassing questions in a live interview and most of my interviews were live. Celebrities have been burned. When I was in Hollywood conducting interviews for an upcoming movie one interviewer actually had the nerve to ask Henry Fonda “So how did you feel when your wife committed suicide?” Thank God that was a taped interview and someone stepped in and stopped the interview. Can you imagine how embarrassing if it had been taped. So now before we move on to the relationship you have to establish with the people you are going to interview, go ahead and practice. If you are successful the person won’t even know he is being modeled. It will be like interviewing himself. More on the steps to take in the pre-interview in the next hub.


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