Brandon Stanton’s Tips for Interviews

Brandon Stanton’s Tips for Interviews

Learn the tips and tricks of one of the best interviewers ever

Let’s start with the tough reality. As you start doing interviews you will come across one of the biggest struggles: setting the right mood.

Be ready for the first few interviews to be quite awkward and expect to fumble from time to time since, as they say, all comes with experience.

But since we all hate having to go around in the dark without knowing how to improve lets see some of the advice from one of the best at the craft. These tips helped me a lot when I was starting, and even if you don’t follow them all, just the change in mentality can help you a lot.

So how does Brandon, creator of Humans of New York, approach interviews?

1 Never approach from behind.

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

It might seem quite logical, but how many times have we forgotten about what the other party might think and just jumped straight towards asking.

Remember, be polite if they do the interview they are helping you so at least think of them a little bit.

2 Try to be as relaxed as possible when you approach

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

This might seem obvious yet at the same time it is one of the hardest things to do. It is almost impossible not to be nervous as you get close to somebody. But remember, if you show nervousness people will get even more nervous, we tend to mimic the emotions of the others without noticing so try to be as relaxed as you can.

A good way to do it is to open your arms so that you aren’t using any kind of defensive body language. Whenever you notice that you are closing up, force yourself to stop. With time you will see that you get more comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

3 Allways crouch, always go from the front

Photo by unscriptedMe on Unsplash

To try to appear non-threatening he crouches and tries to appear as small as possible. This seems like a pretty good idea and the way he does it in the video is great. Although I haven’t tried this one yet, it might be worth it to give it a try.

4 Try to do the interviews with only one person at a time whenever you can

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

This is more important than it might seem, you could think that because they are speaking with a stranger they would close up more, but the truth is that the hardest interviews I had were whenever we had more than one participant. Because you have to divide your focus between two or more and when they feel you aren’t listening they start losing interest, which in turn means that the interview dries up.

5 If you feel the no coming tell them why you are doing it. You shouldn’t start by bringing the interview from the start

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

First take a full body shot. Then you sit down and (try to be as non threatening as possible, don’t get too close, maybe even sit on the ground to make yourself as small as possible).

This is the approach Brandon uses, in my case I have also experimented with telling them about the interview since the start and for now it works, although they also tend to try to prepare answers but as the interview goes on they usually relax and go with the flow.


So those are the five steps you need to follow to do interviews with random strangers. As we said, practice makes perfect. Try to start with your friends at first and get comfortable with the interviewing process. Once you start feeling confident, start asking strangers.

Its hard and you feel vulnerable when you do it, but I can assure you that by the 20th interview you will get hooked.

For more articles about how to interview go to TheTowerOfScience. If you want to learn more about the project YoungHumansOfScience subscribe to our newsletter.

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