If you run an entertainment blog, scoring a celebrity interview is actually easier than you think – most of the time, you just have to ask. While A-listers may not respond, in almost every niche, there are moderately successful people in the entertainment industry who would love to talk to you. Writers, small-role actors, costume designers, and other people who are important to a film aren’t typically asked for an interview, while stars are inundated with requests.
This isn’t a post about getting interviews, though. That part isn’t actually hard, as long as you continually send out requests. What is hard – at least for some people – is the actual interview. Interviewing in and of itself is not difficult, but most people were never taught these skills while in school. Sadly, most people have interviewing skills that rival my snowboarding skills. That’s only a good thing if you like to fall on your face a lot.
It’s a problem, because most people don’t realize what they’re doing wrong. They have no idea that they just totally bombed. I’m guessing that many celebs walk away from interviews shaking their heads. You don’t have to necessarily work in the entertainment industry to make these mistakes, either. Here are the quickest ways to look stupid when interviewing a celebrity, whether that celebrity is a famous actress or just someone well-known in your niche:
- Don’t do your research.
Interviews are comprised of questions and answers, but that doesn’t mean you should go into the interview without knowing a thing about the celebrity. Do some homework so that you can hold a conversation with the person and build new questions off of their original answers.
- Try to be James Lipton.
Inside the Actors Studio has a formula that works. The host, James Lipton starts at the beginning, and allows the celebrity to talk about their past through answering questions. If you go into an interview asking questions that can easily be answered by looking at the celebrity’s wikipedia page, you’re just going to look stupid. You can ask basic questions to set the stage, but go deeper than factual information about a person’s past.
- Don’t pretend to know everything.
Sometimes, a celebrity is going to mention a project that you haven’t read about in your research. That’s ok! Do enough to be confident in what you do know, but don’t try to pretend you know something when you don’t. The celebrity might be giving you the scoop on something, and you’ll look like an idiot if you pretend you know what’s going on. Even if it is something you could have researched before the interview, don’t pretend you know about it if you don’t. Use your lack of knowledge as a jumping off point in the interview to ask questions about the project.
- Be late (coming or going).
It’s pretty disrespectful to show up late to an interview, but it is just as disrespectful to run over the time you’ve quoted. If you ask for a twenty-minute interview, keep it to twenty minutes. Even if you’re having a good time talking with one another, keep in mind that your guest likely has other things going on with the day. If you’re really enjoying your time, wrap up the interview at a spot where you could end, and then invite the guest to stay longer, without pressure.
What are some of the other ways you can look stupid during an interview? List your tips in the comment section below!
Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She thinks James Lipton is a sexy beast.