How These 3 Interview Questions Can Save Your Video

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Sometimes folks struggle to ask effective interview questions when they’re shooting video.

Good videos are frequently built around interviews. That’s why many people say that the most important skill a video creator needs is the ability to shoot great interviews.

I’m going to share three questions I personally find effective.

These questions tend to produce footage I can actually use in the edited video.

Sometimes I use long segments, and sometimes I just pull sound bites from them.

They’re straight-forward questions, but the answers you get can save your video.

Let’s get on with the questions…

Question #1: “Who are you, and what are you doing?”

This simple question can yield great stuff.

First of all, good videos answer the questions “who, what, when, where, and why” and this efficient question answers two of them.

You might get answers like “I’m Mike Smith, and I’m making a wooden rocking chair for my daughter.”

Or… “I’m Aiden Hyman, and I’m going to try to set a new record for solving my Rubik’s Cube.”

Boom. You have the answer to “who” and “what”.

And as viewers, we’re connecting with the characters in the story.

Viewers love connecting with characters.

The question makes sense if you think about it. If we want to know “who” and “what”, why not just directly ask?

As a bonus, it gives you a chance to shoot video of them doing things – instead of just sitting in a chair talking about doing things.

Question #2: “What are you doing and why?”

This is similar to the first question with the “what are you doing” part but as you can see, it also asks the question “why”.

The “why” provides important information. It provides the motivation.

We love to know the motivation behind a character’s actions.

This question might get answers such as:

“I’m hiding behind this wall because any moment Jack is going to walk through the door, and we’ll all jump out and surprise him. He has no idea.”


“I’m putting a new propellor on this drone because I broke the last one when it crashed.”

Viewers love to know the “because”.

If you want to know the “because”, you need to ask the question “why”.

Question #3: “What just happened?”

This question is useful because it’s likely you just captured the action that just happened.

After you capture the action, you turn the camera to a person and ask “What just happened?”

Later when you’re editing, you can play the audio where they answered “What just happened” while you show on the screen the action you shot.

This is pretty abstract, so I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re shooting video of your son doing a back handspring.

After you capture it, you turn the camera to your wife and ask “What just happened?”

She says, “Aiden just did a back handspring for the first time. I can’t believe it!”

Later you can edit the clips together. Her audio goes underneath the video of the back handspring, and you now have her narrating the action we see on screen.

Super useful stuff.

By the way, another alternate to this question is “Can you tell me the story of what just happened?”

This is great because they tend to describe a sequence of events, and hopefully you captured video of the actual sequence of events.


Do these questions always get you the answers you want? Of course not. But they’ve worked for me so many times, they’re habitual.

If you’re not already asking them, I suggest you give them a try.

I hope you find them useful too.

Stock media provided by ivonnewierink/

5 thoughts on “How These 3 Interview Questions Can Save Your Video

  1. Izzy! Good thoughts as always. As an executive coach, I spend a lot of my time “asking questions.” As my friend and mentor John Maxwell says, “Good leaders ask great questions.” Your point on asking why is excellent—go a bit further by asking the “W & H” questions—Who, What, Why, How, When… Be incredibly curious—just like a child who is constantly asking “why.” Also, the notorious “if.” If you had to do that again, how would you do it differently? What made you do that? When did you realize you could do this? Who was your inspiration for this? Be creative—ask a lot of questions. Dig deeper.

    Thanks again for your time and blog—you’re the tops.

    Committed to your success,

    Royce White
    The Royce White Company
    The John Maxwell Team
    Leadership & Personal Development Training

  2. Good suggestions. I also ask the very basic, “What are we watching?” or “What’s happening here?” as the subject and I look out at what the camera is recording. That can prompt a fairly good response that may need a few further prompts, such as “And, what does that mean?” or “And, why is that important?”

    Wes Bleed
    Speaker, Communications strategist

  3. All good additional suggestions.

    I should mention — One of the main reasons I wrote this post is because many of the Small Story submissions I’ve been receiving have zero interviews or narration. Instead, as a viewer I’m watching the video wondering what’s going on. Who is this person talking? Why are they doing this thing (whatever it is)?

    One of the first goals of a video is clarity.

    Effective interview questions give you the information you need to include in the video to achieve clarity.

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