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Are You Asking These 11 Stimulating Interview Questions to Capture Your Company’s 'Honest-to-Goodness' Video Story?

  • Are your video interviews compelling?
  • Does your audience feel naturally connected with the people featured in your company’s video?
  • Are you asking questions that create “one-of-a-kind” responses your viewers will remember for a long time?

If not, you’re not alone. Remember…

Appearing on-camera is NOT natural

It’s not everyday that we appear on-camera for an interview. That’s exactly why the questions you ask your “heroes” need to be framed in a way that makes them forget where they are. Ask questions that allow the person on-camera to share their story in a natural way.

Self-editing is NOT helpful

During an interview, it is completely natural to edit what one is saying. The interviewee is thinking of the “right” answers. That’s a recipe for disaster when trying to capture honest and real emotions from someone.

Telling our story IS natural

In capturing a story for a company through personal interviews, simply ask questions that are, well, personal. It’s that simple.

How do you get around these common traps? Easy. By asking questions that frame a business through a person.

Over 24 years of interviewing hundreds of people, I’ve developed a cache of questions I keep on hand at all times.

These are my favorite questions. These are the ones I use over and over in almost every interview, regardless of the story. You can use them, too. Just tweak them as needed.

I love them because they work. Every time.

11 Stimulating Questions to Capture Your Company’s Video Story

1. In simple terms, what did your life look like before you worked/volunteered/here?

2. Describe your “Ah-Ha!” moment that shaped your decision to work here/start this company/join to volunteer?

3. What was your biggest fear before starting this job/position/company/idea?

4. What have you learned from that experience?

5. What does this means to those watching this film?

6. What do you love the most about what you do?

7. Do you have a metaphor for what it’s like to work/volunteer here?

8. In your mind, who would be a great fit for this company/product/service/team?

9. Can you imagine a world without this company/service/product/idea?

10. If you could destroy one myth about this company/job/culture, what would it be?

11. What’s at stake?

Of course, there are plenty more you could ask. But you get the idea.

Steal these questions. Use them. Spin them to make them yours. Put ‘em to use in the real world.

Oh, yeah. One more thing.

Let me know how they work for you. Drop me a comment. I’m curious.


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Reader Comments (9)

Nice gift to the community, Tom. These are good questions for interviewers even if they aren't using the visual medium. Much appreciated.

June 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Roesler
Great list Tom! I am going to integrate this into my own process, I like it a lot!
June 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Crow
Hi Steve,

Glad you like the list! Hope it helps your interviews go well.

June 28, 2008 | Registered CommenterThomas Clifford

You continue to make my job easier and easier... Bravo!

July 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlison
Hi Alison,

Glad to hear it! You're welcome back anytime. :-)

July 10, 2008 | Registered CommenterThomas Clifford

Not having had experience in this area myself, I could certainly imagine that the formality of the interview process may prompt responses which are less than natural.

I am curious. What do you think about the idea of helping your 'heros' prepare ahead of time by providing guidance as to what questions will be asked against the practice of simply firing questions on the spot.

I would have thought that the process of providing the questions ahead of time and giving participants sufficient time to prepare and rehearse their answers might help them to speak with a greater degree of confidence and therefore come across more naturally during the interview process.

What do you think about that?
January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew
Hi Andrew!

Yes, you're spot on!

Giving a framework for the conversation is definitely helpful and necessary. It's just when you give a specific list of questions ahead of time most people are inclined to memorize answers which usually doesn't come across too well on-camera. And being taped, one can always go back and re-do answers to get different perspectives on the questions till it works.

Thanks for stopping by!

January 5, 2009 | Registered CommenterThomas Clifford
I have learned to never give people the questions ahead of time. Just like you said, the answers are memorized and canned. I have a challenge in some of the videos that I do for my church where we intro new members using video. We have no choice as to whether we can just cut out a person altogether. We have to use every interview so it is really important to get usable tape no matter how bad they might be in front of a camera.
March 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeff
hi tom.

first of all, thanks for posting this article. i'll be interviewing the ceo of a company that i'll be doing a corporate video for. i've been thinking long and hard of questions to ask and how i could achieve the video interview in the most natural way possible. i have to say that your questions are really helpful, and i am very happy that i cam across this site. the interview should be in under a month, so i'll try and come back then to tell you how it goes! thanks again tom. you've been a big help! :)
May 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternadea

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