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March 23, 2015

Kick the Boring Right Out of Your Video Interview Questions with These 10 Tips

As you know, video is the best way to engage with your prospective and current customers. The medium works exceptionally well for interview-style videos, including brand culture shoots and customer case studies. Videos can make traditional interview testimonials actually enjoyable (and since customer testimonials are one of the most effective content types for converting prospects and generating sales leads, they really should be in video format rather than in downloadable…I mean unreadable…oops, I mean deletable…text format).

But you know all this, that’s why you want to put your interview on camera. Whether you’re asking employees to talk about your company culture, asking customers how your product has improved life at their organization, or making any other type of interview video, here are ten basic tips to keep in mind when selecting and drafting your video interview questions.

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1. Oui, ou non?

YesYou can get all classy and ask it in French or in any other jazzed up way, but a boring question is still a boring question. Worse, they lead to boring answers. So that’s why tip #1 is to avoid asking questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no”. They don’t leave any room for interesting, conversational answers, and instead create a disjointed flow because of their abrupt answer. Give the interviewee a chance to expand on their thoughts with an open-ended question. This will help turn your video into a story, and did you know that people remember stories 63% easier than simple facts? It’s true.

2. Ask relevant questions

Yes, you should have your questions selected before your interview. Give some thought to selecting questions that focus on the customer’s unique needs. This way, your video will help to alleviate potential clients’ similar objections or concerns about your company or product.

For example, if you have a potential customer base who thinks your product is too hard to implement, ask a customer who had similar concerns “How long did it take to set up the product?” or “Did you find the product more intuitive than expected?” Videos with well-chosen questions can make a significant impact on converting potential leads.

Don’t forget that relevant questions aren’t just for customer testimonials; they’re perfect for highlighting personality and creating a story. Since customers don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, unique questions that help create a story are the only way to go. Want examples? Check out these two videos from Vogue’s new “73 Questions” video interview segment. Both work to increase brand awareness of each persona through unique, tailored questions.

Victoria Beckham:

Seth Meyers:

3. Always do a warm-up before you exercise…I mean, interview

Not everyone is comfortable on camera – at least at first. So it’s always a good idea to start off asking simple and easy-to-answer questions to help your interviewee ease into having a camera pointed at them. This can help alleviate the pressure of having to know exactly what to say and how to say it. Once you start asking the important questions, your interviewee will already have been warmed up and is now ready to go.

Also, questions like what’s your name, where are you from, and how long have you been at your company can help you keep the interview’s focus on the interviewee. Instead of making the video too self-promoting and product-heavy, treat the interviewee like the hero of a story who had to face obstacles and find a solution (your product/company) to save the day.

Keep in mind, as useful as these first questions are, you don’t need to keep this early footage intact; it might be a time waster since you only have seconds to attract your audience’s attention. You can always display their title on screen while they’re talking instead of taking up 10 seconds to do introductions.

4. Specificity isn’t just a fun word to say

You just tried saying it, didn’t you? I could be specific about why it’s so fun but we don’t have time for that. You do, however, need to spend time making sure that the questions you ask in your interview are specific. Otherwise, you’ll end up with questions like, “How are things going?” and responses like “Fine.” And, if you know anything about the word “fine”, it’s a bad four-letter f-word.

So instead of asking, “What can we do better?” (“Nothing, everything’s fine”), instead try to lead the interviewer to open up and share anecdotes through questions like “Can you tell us about your favorite experience with x”, or “What are three ways you have developed stronger relationships with your customers?” These thoughtful questions prompt answers full of insight that you wouldn’t otherwise get from generic questions. And this insight is great not just for your audience, but for you; you can apply that insight to the projects you’re currently working on!

5. What’s the Need?

If you’re creating a customer video testimonial, include questions that will help the customer explain what their need was. The hero of the story facing an obstacle is one of the big, thrilling, emotion-driven parts of the story. It builds up the frustration that other potential customers could be feeling about their current situation, and helps them relate to the video content. So ask something like, “What was hell–I mean life–like before x?” (Okay, maybe don’t ask THAT, but you get the gist.)

Interview videos all have a “need” in the broader sense; just make sure your questions are tailored to the goals/strategy you want your video to accomplish.

6. Where is my Product Charming?

Your video interview’s hero wouldn’t BE a hero if they just sat around and cried about their problem. No, they went on a quest for the solution that would save the world! Ask questions about this search. (Of course, your questions don’t need to make it into the final cut; you just need to prompt for great answers off camera). This helps build credibility for your video; the audience relates to the interviewee’s situation and everything they tried before they found the magic solution. Check out this video interview for a great example of the hero’s search.

7. Now you get to talk about you!

You have showed restraint, and you’ve let your interviewee shine. But now for the best part of the interview: when the conversation works around to land on you!

The interviewee has talked about the challenges and the quest, so you can prompt them to talk about the solution. But as per #4, don’t just ask “So how do you like product?” or you’re gonna get “Yeah, it’s great”. Instead, what about “How is this product/company different from what you tried before?” or “How has x improved y?” Look for ways to capture moments of epiphany, when the customer or interviewee realized they couldn’t live without you.

8. “Huh?”

If an interviewee says something that you didn’t understand, or something that includes a lot of jargon or specifics that your audience may not be aware of, simply ask a follow-up question: “What did you mean by that?” Again, your question doesn’t have to remain in the final version, but you can use the answer to provide the clarification and context that your audience might need.

9. Remember, to help control the pet population, have your pet spayed or neutered.

Hidden GemsOkay, so you don’t need your interview to end with a moral or lesson (as per every episode of the Price Is Right, which ended with Bob Barker’s unforgettable advice). But it’s a great idea to ask your interviewee for any final thoughts or comments. Even well-planned questions can leave some topic or gem undiscovered, so asking this final question helps bring anything to light that your interviewees think is important. And as stated in tip #4, any feedback or insights your interviewees offer can be useful and relevant to your current work!

10. Script your questions…and don’t script your questions

Yes, you want to have a plan. Otherwise you’ll find it difficult to make sure your video has a strategy and meets a content need. Just be open to conversational tangents; your interviewee may have perspectives on the topic that you hadn’t even considered. Unscripted footage is also a great way for personality (and company culture/brand) to shine through.

Because you can’t get enough of this awesome content, here are five tips on how to make your interview style video more engaging.

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Emily Ross

Emily Ross

Emily was previously the Brand and Creative Manager at Vidyard. Today, she's a UI writer at Intel. Emily loves creating interesting and unique content oh, and food...if you haven't already noticed, she loves food.

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