How to conduct an interview for a digital profile

NBCU Academy 101

Maya Eaglin, digital reporter for NBC News’ Snapchat show “Stay Tuned,” shares how to prepare for and conduct an interview for a digital profile. From a celebrity to a member of your community, here are the steps you need to go through to make your profile shine:

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1. Create a pitch document 

Include the social media tags of the person you will profile, a brief description of the story and why it would work for your program. Check Google News and the person’s Twitter profile, website or featured Instagram stories for recent news items about your interview subject.  

2. Pre-interview 

Have a five-minute phone call with your interview subject. Make sure your producer is going to get what you promised, and help your interview subject get more comfortable with you.  

3. Interview prep 

Set up your home studio, including ring light, tripod with phone and laptop. Call your producer 10 to 15 minutes before the interview and verbally go through the questions. Some interviews have a very specific allotted amount of time, so highlight the most important questions that must be asked.  

4. Be an active listener.  

If your interview subject brings up something that’s not on your list of questions, but is a compelling point or breaking news, lean into that moment. Don’t be afraid to go off the path, because that might be the best part of your interview.  

5. Take the pressure off the interview.  

NBC News’ “Stay Tuned” is not live, so Maya says she will “establish the culture that starting over is OK.” She adds, “I fumbled several times in the past, and I still do. It’s still a learning process. Take a breath, say ‘Let me try that one more time,’ and often you doing that will invite your interviewee to also do the same. You might even get a better answer than you originally had.” 

6. Select the best soundbites and edit the profile.  

Some interviewers type the transcript by hand, but NBC News uses an online transcription service. Clean up the transcript, make sure all the words are correct and highlight favorite parts. Think of what’s most compelling, what’s most relevant and what is going to be the best new information, because this is the business of news. Emotional moments also work very well.  

After that, Maya sends the editor all the videos, photos and graphics to create their “Stay Tuned” segment.  

My biggest piece of advice would be to learn as much as you can. Even if you're very certain that you want to be a producer, expose yourself to the tasks and the skill set of a reporter, and vice versa. Those skill sets are what's going to set you apart.
Maya Eaglin