Video Interview Essentials

The key to a great video interview starts with the setup. Whether you’re using your smartphone or a video camera you’re going to want to set up prior to the interview to get the best video and audio.

Check the Background
Whenever possible avoid busy or moving backgrounds. Beware of objects that might distract viewers and if possible remove them from the background. An awkwardly placed item can appear to come out of the subjects head or body. Depending on the location, it isn’t always possible to avoid an active background like at a rally. In that case, move the subject far enough from the event so it won’t dominate the interview.

Framing the Subject
Never center the subject in the shot. Place them to the left or right of center and be sure to remind them to not look at the camera. As the interviewer, you should stand to the left or the right of the camera opposite of the side the subject is on. This will draw their eyes away from the camera and make for a better shot.

For cameras with an optical zoom, zoom into frame the subject in a head and shoulders shot leaving enough room to place a title on the subject that won’t obscure their face.

Some subjects may have a tendency to move around during the interview. From swaying back and forth to stepping forward and backward, moving around can cause them to move out of focus or out of frame. If you notice in the pre-interview that the subject tends to sway, politely point it out to them.

Lighting the Subject
Use natural lighting whenever possible. If you’re shooting indoors be aware of overhead lighting or lighting from windows. Play around with moving the subject slightly to determine the best lighting possible.

Avoid backlit settings. Having your subject in front of a window or having the sun behind your subject will create negative lighting you’ll want to avoid.

If you’re outside you can use a whiteboard or a reflective board (a car windshield reflective screen is an inexpensive alternative) can help to bounce sunlight and eliminate shadows on a subjects face.

You may want to invest in LED natural lighting that work off batteries and can be set up on a tripod to help light your subject both indoors or outside.

Getting Good Audio
Utilize an external microphone along with headphones to make sure you’re getting the best possible audio.

Conducting the Interview
It helps to have an initial conversation with the subject and go over the interview questions. This will help them to think about what they want to say and may help you come up with additional questions to ask. Remind the subject to not look at the camera and to wait until you are finished with a question before responding.

Begin by starting your camera and asking the subject to say and spell their name. Then ask them for their title. This will give you accurate information for titling the subject in your video.

Almost anything can be fixed in editing. If a subject starts answering before you finish a question, stop the interview and remind them to wait until you are done before answering. If the subject gets flustered on a question, take a moment to regroup and have them start over.