Sarah McGilvray’s top five tips for interviewers

Former Assistant Editor

Sarah McGilvray is the glue behind Nova 96.9 Breakfast show Fitzy and Wippa.

Having worked as the show’s EP for four years, she returned in 2016 after a brief stint at SCA, and now serves as Nova Sydney’s program director while remaining a guiding force on air with Fitzy and Wippa.

With Sarah pulling the strings, it’s no surprise that Nova 96.9 Breakfast pulls off fantastic interviews with some of the world’s biggest celebrities on a regular basis.

There’s no substitute for experience when it comes to those starting out in radio broadcasting, but quickly getting to grips with the key facets of how to craft an entertaining interview can be a major ace up the sleeve when it comes to who gets the next network job.

Radio Today is shining the spotlight on some of the industry’s best when it comes to engaging and intriguing interviews, so here are Sarah’s top five interview tips.

1. Do your research

With the right celebrity, an incorrect fact can turn to a funny conversation starter but it’s very rare that it won’t put them offside for the rest of the interview. The research also helps your confidence if you’re new to it, especially if the conversation is dragging.

2.Tick off what the celebrity is promoting first

Lots of presenters would disagree with this but unless you already have a great relationship with the guest, you need to make them feel like they’ve had a win and pushed their album/movie/product.
After this, I believe all bets are off and you can get into other stuff. Just don’t let them drag on and fill all the allocated time with discussion about a new candle range.

3. Listen

The worst interviews are where you can hear a host rolling through their list of questions, not listening to the guest’s answers. The conversation has no flow, and you’ll likely miss a chance to push them and uncover a unique story.

4. Don’t just kiss their arse

Printing a Wikipedia page or stealing questions from Jimmy Fallon’s last interview won’t get you a good interview. Watch and read as much as possible but you should be pushing to ask new and different questions. The guest will appreciate not being asked the same thing for the 100th time.

5. Don’t be afraid to call it

It’s horrible for the host but I love hearing an interview where the guest is giving absolutely nothing, and the awkwardness is palpable.
Even better is when the host wraps it up early or even calls the guest out for being difficult. In those cases, the interview should be played and celebrated. It’s real and listeners love it.

Catch up on Part One of the series here with Ash London.

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Paul Hodges
6 Aug 2018 - 8:01 pm

The best interview question is …. Why?
Silence is golden…give them room to answer your question.
Don’t jump all over them.
Shut up.
The second best interview question is ‘Tell me more’?
Shut up.


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