Interviews Revisited and why a 15 Minute Interview is Easier than a Four Minute One

A while back, I wrote a piece on doing on-camera junket interviews, and my experiences with them. Since then, I have done several longer interviews, and consequently I’ve been comparing the experiences.

For the on-camera interviews, usually, I have gotten something on the order of four minutes Maybe a little bit more, maybe a little bit less, but that general ballpark. For the longer interviews—either written or for the “Lass is More” podcast—I have gotten closer to 15 minutes.

Paradoxically, those 15 minute interviews are somewhat more easy.

In a four minute interview, first I have to quickly attempt to break the ice before the cameras start rolling and then I have to make each and every one of those questions count. If I get short answers, maybe I can ask five or six questions, if I get long answers, I can ask two or three. Ideally, the brief conversation occurs, flowing from one question to the next. That isn’t always possible depending on upon what I’m trying to get at and the sorts of answers I receive, but it’s certainly the goal.

Every single question counts in those on-camera interviews – ask one throwaway question and I’ve punted something around 25% of the interview. I have to quickly get to the heart of the issue and try to remain on topic while still listening to and playing off of the person(s) sitting opposite.

A longer interview can be somewhat more meandering. Odds are that if I have four questions I really want to ask, over the course of 15 minutes I’m going to get to ask them even if I ask other things as well. The ice-breaking/rapport establishment bit can also build a little more slowly. Sure, it would be great to instantly get past that during the introductions, just as with the shorter interviews, but if it takes two or three minutes, then it takes two or three minutes and I still have the vast majority of the interview ahead of me.

All of this strikes me today as I’m preparing to interview Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander about “Ex Machina.” This piece won’t publish until after that interview is in the can, but they’re the thoughts I have going into it. I don’t imagine that my thoughts will greatly change following the interview, but whether they do or not, I will not be altering the this paragraph nor any of the above ones after the interview.

It now strikes me that this last paragraph should have come at the beginning of the piece, but making that change at this point would break my promise and so it isn’t something I will do, even if no one out there would know I had done it.

Oh, and as for that “Any Given Sunday”-Jamie Foxx thing?  Yeah, it still happens.

photo credit: A24

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