Provide the interviewee with stimulants before you start. Caffeine, tea, cigarettes and sugar can lead to a jittery situation. Instead, create a calm, upbeat environment with a warm greeting and plenty of water.
Make sure the room is crowded. A crowded room with all eyes on the interviewee can be uncomfortable and add unnecessary pressure. Reduce the people in the room to the bare essentials. Also, ensure everyone seated is out of the subject’s line of sight.
Interrupt and repeat. Apart from public speakers and higher ed leaders, most people do not feel at ease in front of the camera. It can take a while for someone to sort out what they want to say. Avoid interrupting when the subject is about to speak or in the midst of speaking. And definitely don’t ask them to repeat verbatim what they’ve just said—that can make them feel twice as nervous.
Ask vague, indirect questions. The interviewer is just as responsible as the interviewee for the outcome—prepare a list of direct, specific questions, including a few softballs to start with to help the subject feel comfortable.
Do not smile. Intimidation, arrogance or being overly serious will work against you—even if the person being interviewed is a bit tricky, maintain a friendly, calm, unflappable demeanor. Actively listen!