Have you ever experienced premature interview termination? Here’s how it goes: At the end of an interview – whether it’s for a magazine article, corporate newsletter piece or podcast – you thank the subject, snap your notebook shut and switch off your recorder. In the chatter that follows, your interviewee utters the most quotable quote of the last half hour.

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. So, over the years, I’ve learned to not turn off the recorder until the last possible minute – way beyond the thank-yous – and to keep my pen poised to capture every juicy bit.  Half the time, the best material emanates from those last comments.

There’s a lesson here for the interview subject too: Don’t assume that what you believe to be an off-hand comment won’t actually be on the record. (Of course, in the corporate world, endless rounds of approvals will ensure that the final product won’t violate anyone’s sensibilities; for external publications, it’s a different matter.)

What do you think?

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Writer, speaker, podcaster, communications and social media consultant, workshop leader and part-time university instructor. As a consultant, I emphasize the importance of storytelling and relationship-building, and enjoy helping people understand how today’s technology, combined with tried-and-true tactics, can help them communicate better with employees, customers and prospects.

3 COMMENTS

  1. That’s a tough call — for me, it depends on the purpose of the interview. For personality driven interviews/or documentary clips, I tend to let them run on for a long time to make sure I don’t lose that great clip. If it’s a news oriented piece which is going to be short .. and where I’m on a tight deadline, I try to just cut to the chase … yes, I might get the absolutely perfect clip if I kept the mike open longer, but time doesn’t allow me to wait it out. And if the interview is long, it can also take a lot of extra time when I’m editing to find the clip …

    In a perfect world , I would always have the time to wait for the perfect clip. But not so in the real world of time crunches and tight deadlines.

    It’s a trade-off most of the time .. except when budgets and time are unlimited.

  2. I completely agree with you on the interview topic. Fortunately I learned this not by mistake. On my latest episode of marketingfromthecottage.com I interviewed a software developer and how a simple blog post exploded his marketing efforts (or what he thought he was supposed to do). Anyway the interview was done but I decided to keep the “tape rolling” and what I captured was some of the clearest content that wasn’t captured in the “real” interview. I ended up editing and using most of that content.

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