Prepare for Conducting an Interview Checklist

Checklist 2 min
Use this pre-interview checklist to set yourself up for success.

The key to a successful interview is to show up well informed and well prepared. The more prepared you are, the smoother your interview will go, and you will help your interviewee feel more at ease. A smooth interview may also help your interviewee agree to accept future interviews. Follow this checklist to ensure you are prepared for a successful interview.

  • Research the topic
    • Research the event to have an idea or an understanding about what is happening
    • Outline possible questions
    • Ask participants off camera why they are there
    • Look for and review similar interviews on DVIDS
    • Obtain a copy of the Operations Order (OPORDER) for the event
    • Contact public affairs for a copy of the press release if the event has been publicly announced
  • Research the interviewee
    • Learn as much as possible about the interviewee before the interview
    • Understand their role/job
    • Know their title
  • Establish a focal point
    • Determine prior to the interview what you want the main point of your story to be
    • Tailor questions around the main point
    • Focus your story on one main topic
    • Prepare your questions prior to going into the interview
    • Don't conduct your entire interview off the cuff
    • Keep questions simple and concise
    • Avoid wordy questions
    • Don't ask two-part questions; ask a second question if necessary
    • Cover all aspects of the story
    • To ensure well-rounded coverage, focus at least one question each on the who, what, when, where, why and how
  • Determine location
    • Choose a location free of distractions
    • Pay attention to surroundings
    • Limit the amount of noise you and the interviewee will be subjected to
    • Make notes of the equipment you'll need to ensure proper lighting and sound
    • Use a second camera at a minimum; this is best for ease of editing
    • Perform a Site Survey Check
  • Establish a rapport with your subject
    • Help your interviewee relax
    • Be conscious of how intimidating the cameras, microphones and lights are
    • Make small talk and treat them as you would hope to be treated if your roles were reversed
    • Ask questions using topics to get your interviewee talking, i.e., where they went through basic training, where they are from or who they want to win the World Series
    • Avoid asking yes or no questions
    • Discuss their background, their job and their career to learn more and give the interviewee a sense you are personally interested in them
    • Treat your subject as a person, not an object, to encourage responsiveness
    • Go over ground rules with your subject
    • Tell your subject to include the question in the answer; Example, "What color is the sky? The sky is blue."
    • Tell your subject where you want them to look
    • Avoid acronyms and military jargon
    • Explain the editing process - if they fumble some words they can simply start over
    • Avoid phrases like, "as I said before," or "like I was saying," since all answers might not be included in the final product

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