Five ways to save a failing interview

We’ve all been there… You’ve done the hard part and successfully convinced your peers, the board and finance that a commitment to high-quality editorial is gold-dust for your brand.

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You’ve secured an exclusive interview with an artist who resonates with your target audience.

You’re prepped, primed and ready to get your interview rolling… And then it all falls flat.

Whether it’s down to interviewee disinterest, time constraints, good old wardrobe malfunctions (we’re thinking of one time when an interview with an esteemed film director was halted when he had to make an emergency dash to Specsavers) or any number of unknowable factors, here’s some foolproof ways to improve your interview technique and revive a flagging tête-à-tête – all learned through personal awkward experience.

Fall back on your research!…

It’s an obvious one (or really should be), but if you know your subject you should have a wealth of interview questions to fall back on. Whether it’s for a generic EPK, a fluffy junket/red carpet or something more in-depth, there are many interview types and you’ll elicit a stronger response if you respond to a stonewall with a knowledgeable retort. Bringing notes to an interview is OK and solid research will save your butt every time.

Be flexible!…

We can’t tell you the amount of times we’ve been faced with a monosyllabic answer to a seemingly innocuous question. Of course, you go into any interview with a brief and you’ve got to keep your editor/boss/client happy, but if the interviewee isn’t feeling it (even if they have been briefed by management/PR, which of course they should be), then you’ve got to go with the flow. Conversational interview questions can often help you break the ice and make for great storytelling opportunities. Read the room, glean the subject’s interest and form a bond that way. If time permits, you can wend back to the original line of questioning and get what you came in for.

Adopt the Kendrick lean!…

One of top guys is 6ft 6ins (we are Very Tall after all) and that presents its own set of challenges when interviewing less vertically gifted folk. Back in his red carpet days, he was forced to adopt a very awkward standing position (right leg pushed far out, both legs bent low at the knee) so that he could get good eye contact and therefore garner a better response from the delightful Anna Kendrick. The subsequent position – called the Kendrick Lean by colleagues – goes to show that putting yourself in an awkward position and (kinda) suffering for your art can elicit great results.

Be strong (and nice)!…

This is one of our top interview tips because while it’s easy to swerve from the script when it’s all going wrong, don’t be afraid to apply some pressure to get what you need. If your journalistic spider-sense is telling you that there’s a great quote bubbling beneath the surface, feel free to do some gentle probing. That doesn’t mean you’ve got carte blanche to be rude and pushy, but if you can tease out some vital, entertaining and informative tidbits, your work and the interviewee’s profile will more than likely benefit from it.

Think on your feet!… 

When your interviewee has got the unholy triumvirate of giggles, dry mouth and stutter, simply walk away. We don’t mean stage a walkout, but actually try shouting your questions from another room. This is an unusual interview technique and it might sound crazy but this happened on a recent shoot (we’re not naming names) and the end result was both funny and revealing.

We love to talk, but we prefer to listen. Get in touch with the team at or give us a call on 0208 1300092