Interviewee Interruptions: Handle Unexpected Situations During Recording

These FAQs address the most common questions that people may have when it comes to planning, preparing for, conducting, and analysing interviews for various purposes. These FAQs are applicable to a wide range of industries and situations, such as academic research, radio broadcasting, podcast or webinar hosting, journalism, job interviews, and many others. The information provided also delves into specific aspects of the interview process, including planning for individual or group/focus group interviews, important considerations during interviews, managing interviewee interruptions, building rapport with interviewees, different interview styles, and the steps to review and interpret the outcomes after the interview has taken place.

How to Handle Interruptions and Unexpected Situations During Recording

Recording interviews and discussions is an integral part of various industries, including journalism, podcasting, research, and human resources. However, managing interviewee interruptions and unexpected situations can be challenging. In this quick guide, we will explore strategies and steps to effectively handle difficult interviewee situations and unexpected disruptions during recording.

Defining Interviewee Interruptions

Interviewee interruptions refer to moments during an interview or discussion when the person being interviewed disrupts the flow of conversation, often unintentionally. These interruptions can take various forms, such as speaking out of turn, going off-topic, or introducing unrelated anecdotes. Managing interviewee interruptions is crucial to maintain the quality and focus of the recording.

How To Manage Difficult Situations

Preparation is Key

Before the interview, research your interviewee and their background. Anticipate potential areas of interruption and prepare questions to steer the conversation back on track. Example: If interviewing a renowned scientist, anticipate complex technical explanations and have follow-up questions ready to clarify for the audience.

Effective preparation is the cornerstone of successful interviews. Before the interview, delve into thorough research on your interviewee and their background. Get to know their work, accomplishments, and any recent projects they’ve been involved in. Understanding their expertise and interests is crucial in anticipating potential areas of interruption.

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Additionally, consider the audience you’re targeting with the interview. If you’re speaking to a renowned scientist, for instance, anticipate complex technical explanations that might arise. Prepare follow-up questions that not only keep the conversation on track but also help clarify these intricate concepts for your audience. This not only ensures that your discussion remains engaging and informative but also minimises the chance of interruptions resulting from miscommunication.

Active Listening

Stay engaged and actively listen to your interviewee. Acknowledge their input and show that you value their perspective. Example: “I understand your point, but let’s get back to the topic at hand.”

Active listening is a skill that can make or break an interview. It involves more than just hearing words; it’s about staying fully engaged and showing the interviewee that you value their perspective. Nodding, maintaining eye contact, and using affirmative cues like “I understand” or “I see what you mean” can convey your genuine interest in their thoughts.

Active listening not only encourages a smoother conversation but also helps build rapport with the interviewee. When they feel heard and respected, they are less likely to interrupt out of frustration. However, it’s important to strike a balance – acknowledging their input while gently guiding the conversation back to the topic at hand, if necessary.

Establish Ground Rules

At the beginning of the recording, set expectations for the interviewee. Explain the importance of staying on topic and the impact of interruptions. Example: “Today, we aim to discuss specific topics, so please keep your responses relevant to our discussion.”

At the beginning of your recording, it’s essential to set clear expectations for the interview. Explain the importance of staying on topic and the potential impact of interruptions on the overall quality of the recording. Let them know that the goal is to have a focused and productive discussion.

You might say something like, “Today, we aim to discuss specific topics, so please keep your responses relevant to our discussion.” This simple but clear directive can go a long way in preventing interruptions by aligning the interviewee with your objectives from the start. It also establishes a professional tone for the conversation.

Non-Verbal Cues

Use non-verbal cues like maintaining eye contact and nodding to signal agreement or understanding. These cues can subtly guide the interviewee without disrupting the flow of the conversation. Example: A nod can indicate that you acknowledge the interviewee’s point but want to return to the main topic.

Non-verbal cues are powerful tools in managing interviewee interruptions without disrupting the flow of conversation. While listening, maintain eye contact to show that you’re fully engaged in the discussion. Nodding can signal agreement or understanding and encourage the interviewee to continue sharing their insights.

For example, if the interviewee drifts off-topic, a subtle nod can indicate that you acknowledge their point, but you’d like to return to the main topic. These non-verbal cues help guide the conversation without the need for direct verbal intervention, preserving the natural rhythm of the discussion.

Polite Redirecting

If an interruption occurs, politely redirect the conversation back to the intended topic. Avoid confrontation or making the interviewee uncomfortable. Example: “I appreciate your input, but let’s circle back to our discussion about…”

Interruptions are bound to happen, and when they do, it’s crucial to handle them with grace and politeness. If an interruption occurs, a polite redirection can bring the conversation back on track without making the interviewee uncomfortable.

For instance, you can say, “I appreciate your input, but let’s circle back to our discussion about…” By using polite language and not making the interruption a point of contention, you maintain a positive atmosphere and prevent any tension from escalating.

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Edit During Post-Production

In the case of severe interruptions, don’t hesitate to edit the recording during post-production. Remove sections that deviate from the main theme to maintain coherence. Example: Cutting out long off-topic tangents can make the final recording more concise and focused.

In some cases, interruptions may be severe or lead to lengthy off-topic tangents. While your goal is to maintain the integrity of the discussion, you can always rely on post-production editing to achieve this. After the interview, review the recording, and be prepared to edit out sections that deviate from the main theme.

For instance, cutting out long off-topic tangents can make the final recording more concise and focused. This approach allows you to salvage valuable content while eliminating disruptions that may have occurred during the conversation. It’s a useful technique for ensuring your final product is polished and coherent.

Use Technology Wisely

Employ technology to your advantage, such as recording software with pause and rewind functions. If an interruption occurs, use these tools to rewind and resume the conversation smoothly. Example: Use recording software that allows you to mark specific points for easy reference during editing.

Modern technology offers various tools to assist in managing interviewee interruptions. Recording software with pause and rewind functions is particularly valuable. When an interruption occurs, these tools can be your lifeline. You can pause the recording to address the issue or ask for clarification, and then seamlessly resume from where you left off.

Furthermore, some recording software allows you to mark specific points for easy reference during the editing process. This feature is particularly helpful in identifying sections that need attention during post-production, ensuring a smoother and more coherent final recording.

Stay Calm and Flexible

Unexpected situations can arise, such as technical glitches or external noise. Stay calm, adapt to the situation, and address any challenges without losing your composure. Example: If there’s a technical issue, pause the recording, troubleshoot, and resume with minimal disruption.

Unforeseen situations can disrupt the most well-planned interviews. Technical glitches, external noise, or personal distractions on the part of the interviewee are all possible hiccups that can occur. In such cases, it’s paramount to stay calm and remain adaptable.

For example, if there’s a technical issue, pause the recording, troubleshoot the problem, and then resume with minimal disruption. Your ability to maintain composure and address these challenges swiftly will ensure that the interview stays on track and productive.

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Empathetic Communication

Practice empathy by understanding the interviewee’s perspective. Address any concerns they may have and be accommodating when possible. Example: If the interviewee is anxious or uncomfortable, offer a brief break to alleviate their stress.

Empathy is a powerful tool in managing interviewee interruptions. Put yourself in the interviewee’s shoes and try to understand their perspective. If they seem anxious or uncomfortable, address their concerns empathetically. Offer a brief break if necessary to alleviate their stress.

Empathetic communication not only diffuses potential tension but also fosters a more collaborative and productive atmosphere. When interviewees feel heard and cared for, they are more likely to cooperate in maintaining the flow of the conversation.

Learn from Experience

Reflect on past interviews and identify recurring issues with interviewee interruptions. Continuously refine your interviewing skills and strategies based on your experiences. Example: If you notice a pattern of interruptions in your recordings, adapt your approach and preparation accordingly.

Reflection is a crucial step in improving your interview skills. After each interview, take the time to reflect on the experience. Identify recurring issues with interviewee interruptions and analyse what went well and what could have been handled better.

For instance, if you notice a pattern of interruptions in your recordings, adapt your approach and preparation accordingly. Consider adjusting your questions, refining your techniques for managing interruptions, or providing even clearer expectations at the start of the interview. Learning from your experiences is an ongoing process that can lead to continuous improvement in your interviewing skills.

Key Tips For Difficult Situations

  • Preparation is crucial to managing interviewee interruptions. Anticipate potential disruptions and plan accordingly.
  • Active listening and non-verbal cues help maintain a positive atmosphere during interviews.
  • Polite redirection is an effective way to bring the discussion back on track without causing discomfort.
  • Post-production editing can be a lifesaver for removing significant interruptions.
  • Stay adaptable and empathetic, addressing unexpected situations with composure.

Handling interviewee interruptions and unexpected situations during recording requires a blend of preparation, communication skills, and adaptability. It’s essential to establish ground rules, use technology wisely, and maintain a calm and flexible demeanour. Remember that polite redirection and post-production editing are your allies in creating high-quality recordings. Most importantly, learn from each experience and continuously improve your interviewing techniques to tackle difficult interviewee situations effectively.

Key Piece of Advice: Embrace interruptions as opportunities for richer insights, but maintain control over the interview’s direction. Use interruptions to your advantage when they add value to the conversation.

Useful Resources For Managing Interviewee Interruptions

Way With Words is a professional transcription service that can assist in transcribing interviews with high accuracy, aiding in the management of interview recordings. offers valuable resources for journalists, including tips on conducting interviews and managing interviewee interruptions.

Podcast Insights is platform dedicated to podcasters, offering guidance on interviewing techniques and strategies for handling interruptions during podcast recordings.