How to decide what questions to ask a celebrity during an interview

Written by elizabeth burns Google
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How to decide what questions to ask a celebrity during an interview
Interviewing celebrities requires getting behind the glitzy image. (Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

The lives, loves and even the foibles of the famous are considered public property in our celebrity culture. As a result, celebrities naturally want to create a good impression during newspaper, radio and TV interviews. However, your job as an interviewer is to go beyond the sound bites and get celebrities to let down their guard. Meticulous research combined with thoughtful, intelligent questions helps you to achieve this, regardless of whether you are conducting a five-minute interview or an in-depth personality profile.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Tailor your questions to your readers. Choose subjects that interest your readers. For example, if you are interviewing a celebrity children’s author for a teen magazine you could select questions likely to interest young readers. Such questions might focus on the role that friendship plays in the author’s books and what young people can learn from characters who dare to be different.

  2. 2

    Pose questions that will create a fresh perspective. Read previously published interviews and biographies, then make a list of questions that haven’t been asked or those that might result in a deeper insight into your celebrity’s life, work or personality. For example, you could ask a celebrity chef and author about childhood memories of food or why she chose to write about cuisine rather than pursue a more literary career.

  3. 3

    Ask questions on subjects of topical interest. Your readers or listeners will be eager for more information if a formerly cuddly celebrity has recently slimmed into a size 10 dress or a well-known actress is a about to star in a new film.

  4. 4

    Assess how questions will elicit a positive response from your interviewee. For example, if you want to get the celebrity to open up about a highly publicised romantic break-up, it’s important to phrase your questions in a diplomatic way. Instead of saying “so tell me about your highly-publicised break-up,” which will probably antagonise or intimidate your subject, say something like: “Has your newly single life made you learn anything about yourself or given you the confidence to try new things?”

  5. 5

    Focus on human interest. People want to identity with celebrities, so your questions should probe what makes your interviewees tick and aim to uncover those foibles and vulnerabilities that make them human. Ask your interviewee what makes her happy, sad or afraid and question her about the obstacles encountered on the road to stardom. The sports hero who battled with a childhood disability, the entrepreneur who overcame an impoverished background and the actress who was a shy wallflower as a teenager will inspire your readers with the confidence to pursue their dreams. On the other hand, if your probing questions reveal your celebrity interviewee to be rude and obnoxious, this will be much more fascinating than an interview based on stock questions that elicit stock answers.

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