Tip of the Week - 2016 06 22: The Power of the Pre-Interview

You have arranged your on-air interview. You have done your research. You have written down some of the questions you want to ask.

But there’s one final and very valuable source to check out – your interview guest! We call this the pre-interview. This means contacting your guest before the interview, and asking them a few questions, and checking information.


This isn’t cheating. It’s wise. This will help you give shape to the final interview. It will also make your interview intelligent and relevant.

So, what do you ask during the pre-interview? Here are a few ideas:

  • You have done research, but take time to verify some facts with your guest. You may have picked up some incorrect information.
  • During the pre-interview, they may offer you some extra information you didn’t already know. If it’s worthy of inclusion, write questions to elicit this information.
  • Ascertain if there are any questions they cannot or will not answer. Leave those out, as it will only embarrass them, and make you look unprofessional.
  • Find out if they have any interesting examples or stories to tell. If so, tell them you will ask them about it during the interview.
  • Double check the pronunciation of peoples’ names and place names. Find out what your guest prefers to be called during the interview.

If possible, don’t tell them in advance exactly what questions you will be asking, as this can spoil the spontaneity of the interview. However, give them a rough guide to the direction of the interview, and make sure they understand the angle you are taking.

A pre-interview is not always possible, especially with guests who are super-busy. However, you can quickly cover some of these points in the few moments before the actual interview starts. And if you are interviewing a public figure, sometimes one of their staff may be able to answer a few of these questions for you.

Go forth and do great interviews!

Happy broadcasting.


PS: Check out our video training series ‘Interviewing for Radio.” http://onlineradiotraining.com/category/videos/interviewing-for-radio/

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: Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

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