How to Interview a Contestant

Contestant interviews often focus on future goals.

Contestant interviews often focus on future goals.

You might want to practice your best TV-host voice before you interview contestants for a game or contest. Nonprofit organizations, radio stations, retail stores, beauty pageants and TV stations often host contests that require one-on-one interviews with contestants. Contestants' answers are often considerations when determining a winner. When you interview contestants, focus on topics that appeal to the public and avoid questions that have "yes" or "no" answers.

Background Basics

Start your interview by asking simple questions about the contestant's history, such as where she lives, her occupation or her personal hobbies. You might say, "Tell me a little about yourself," or "What types of recreational activities do you enjoy most?" Avoid questions that are too personal because you don't want to ask anything that might be construed as biased or prejudiced. You might ask about the contestant's upbringing in general terms, such as "In what type of community did you grow up?" or "What are the advantages of living in a rural community?" Don't ask about marital status, children or socioeconomics unless you feel the answers are necessary for qualification purposes.

Controversy Spurs Interest

Depending on the audience and type of game or contest, you might opt for controversial interview questions to force contestants to take a stand. Beauty pageant directors often opt for these types of questions because the answers give insight into a contestant's values, priorities, political views and ideology. They also test a contestant's ability to improvise because the questions aren't predictable. You might ask, "How do you feel about the legalization of marijuana?" "Explain why there should be harsher penalties for people who text while driving," or "What can high schools do to address bullying issues?" Some controversial topics aren't age-appropriate for children or teens, so you must choose them carefully.

"I Have a Dream"

Ask about short- and long-term goals, so you can better understand why the candidate wants to participate in your contest. You might ask, "If you were to win, what would you do with the prize money?" "What are your future academic goals?" or "Tell me about your long-term career plans." Judges can often discern a contestant's character and motives by analyzing answers to these types of questions. Some contests are designed to be humorous, so funny answers work. Others are serious and answers reveal important details about contestants' motivations, future goals and desired plans.

There's Always Room to Laugh

When appropriate, you might throw in questions that are obscure or unusual. Contestants who can laugh at themselves or come up with answers that leave lasting impressions are often big hits with viewers, listeners and judges. You might ask, "What would be the hardest part of living in the hobbit's shire?" "What food could you never go without and why?" or "What would you do if you saw a stray grocery cart at top speed headed toward someone's car?"

 

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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