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5 Quick Video Interview Tips: Beginners Start Here

April 14, 2011 - 30 Comments

Need to conduct a quick interview for a blog post or press release. Use these tips to capture the sights and sounds needed to take your written content over the edge.

  • Tip #1: Framing the Subject
    • Be sure to keep the shot tight on the interviewee, typically keeping the space between the subjects head and the top of the video relatively minimal.
  • Tip #2: Lighting
    • Lighting should never be at the interviewee’s back. The prominent light(s) should be behind the camera or off the side. Lighting can make or break your video.
  • Tip #3: Sound
    • An interview video without good audio from the speaker is worthless. Try to find a quite place where background noise is at a minimum. For more advance users, external microphones are the best way to go.
  • Tip #4: Use a Tripod
    • We all like to think we have a pretty steady hand (’96 Operation champion, NBD) but one should play it safe and grab a tripod to eliminate the potential of a wobbly camera. The “Blair Witch” effect is distracting to the viewer and will take the focus away from the message or result in abandoning the video all together.
  • Tip #5: Getting a Sound Byte
    • For those moments when you’d like to mash up portions of your interview with some b-roll, have the subject repeat the question back so they appear to have a complete and natural thought which can easily be incorporated with other content.

Do you have any tips that help you produce video content? Feel free to share them. Any and all comments are welcome and, as always, feel free to connect with me on Twitter – @arom1000.

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  1. Very usefull tips for all the people who are looking out for a change. Being an HR person I have come across with such a post interview replies from candidates.
    Sometimes it really work..gud tips..

  2. We are about to conduct some interviews and the main thing we’re worried about is the lighting. Let ya know how it turns out! – Jake & Heather

  3. great tips I learned some stuff-

    the only thing I might be able to add is sometimes interviews will look to scripted- i prefer a more natural feel as in my eye it lends more credibility

    some of that scripted feel might just be that people are sometimes uncomfortable in front of the camera

  4. As regards the brand of the light, sound solutions are offered, for instance, by Lowell – i-Light, or id-Light. The advantage of the id-Light is that it is easily dimmable – try this one if you are searching for accessible and not that expensive solutions.

  5. Hi Alex thanks for sharing great tips
    Totally agree with you.

  6. Technically, light and sound are very important, what advice we can give the hardware level? any model or brand?

  7. I think a very important tip is to ensure that the environment you are in is quiet, relaxing, and conducive to thoughtful insights. Very new to the idea of video for websites but can’t wait to get started. Thanks for the tips!

  8. Thanks for the great tips, never noticed about the importance of lighting in an interview section. For the background, empty plain wall or with some decoration better?

  9. yeah, I would also suggest to keep an eye on the background. I used to watch the business interviews on local internet tv, they had terrible drawing, an ugly half naked woman, on the wall on the back of the interviewer… 🙂 looked odd

    thanks for the tips! Cheers Vlad

  10. Nice tips, you dont get anywhere without the basics, so everybody whos going to do an interwiew for the first time would for sure benefit from watching this video.

  11. Thanks for these great tips. I have conducted a few interviews myself and I found the lighting to be a very important aspect. For example, the room shouldn’t be too dark, the face of the interviewee should be illuminated properly and, like you mentioned, there shouldn’t be any backlight. There are a lot of factors to consider and it takes some time until you get the hang of it.

    • Very true about hanging in there, that should be tip #6. I’ve taken my fair share of video that was completely worthless due to lighting, bad audio, or a trillion other things that can come up. If you keep at it though, you’ll figure out what works best and how to get your shot. Thanks!

  12. I know the time will come when I’ll have to get into video so I appreciate the simple tips.

    People often forget about backgrounds and that can ruin an image.

    Blair Witch effect…funny!

  13. Just like with training videos sound is one of the main priorities. It’s a huge turn off to watch a video with a subject and there is odd white noise/interference in the way. Ditto on the external microphone suggestion, they make great interview style mic’s designed to pickup sound front and back of the cone. Also, take special note of where the AC unit is in the room!!

  14. Yes lighting is definitely a major factor, it can destroy a video.

  15. Cool, I never thought of doing Video Interviews, because most of the people I deal with are halfway across the world, but doing so might be a great way to increase the impact of my site. Getting into Video has been challenging, but with practice and knowledge I’m sure I’ll get better at it. Thank you so much for the tips, I know they will come in handy.

    Is there any way to do Interviews effectively when your Interviewee would be in another state or even in another country? Would Good Video editing be able to solve the distance problem? Any tips on how to achieve that would be greatly appreciated, because while written Interviews are cool for getting other input for a site, Video Interviews would be even better. Plus, there are a couple of really cool people in my niche community I’d love to chat with once or twice. It would be fun and educational.

    Anja Aurora —

    • Hi Anja, there are ways out there to video chat with others anywhere in the World and capture that dialogue to essentially make a remote video interview. The one problem that may or may not arise is that you are at the mercy of the interviewee to set up their shot (typically his/her webcam). If you feel comfortable with their skills in setting up the video and audio aspect of the interview then you should be good to go.

  16. I appreciate the the hard-work you did to make the post useful and informative. Just wanna say that it is a good practice for conducting an interview 🙂

  17. I couldn’t agree more about the lighting. Bad lighting can make any video worthless, especially interview style.

  18. nicely done, alex. one tip that i find useful is to have the interviewee speak directly to the person doing the interview, rather than the camera. speaking to a person: we do that every day. speaking directly into a camera: more difficult and can lead to the ol’ shifty-eye syndrome.

    • Great tips, Alex! And John, this one is especially true. I always find that when I can engage the interviewee as if we were just having a normal conversation, the interview feels and comes off to the viewer as more genuine and real.

  19. As I am getting ready to start interviewing people for an article, I searched everywhere for tips and tricks of the trade. Although I found a bunch of good info, most of it was very general, with little if any specifics I can use. Though shorter than many of the other articles I found on interviewing, yours at least has hands-on specifics I can use. For example, I never even considered that, “Lighting should never be at the interviewee’s back.” Thanks.

  20. I mean *80% of the interviewers

  21. I totally agree to RM, as an online worker, I always find the tip #2 and #3 to be the requisites of getting that job. It is very important that the interviewer has a very good visual on you. This will serve as ‘the first impression’ part. With good audio, you will definitely give your interviewer a clear view of what you are trying to relay. And lastly, what makes you get the job is how you answer you throw back those beans. Get some attitude and enthusiasm. 80% of the interviewees prefer hiring candidates who has a sense of humor, just make sure you look good in the camera when cracking your punch line.

    Over all, these tips are very helpful. Would it be fine Mr.Alex Romano, if you could give us some pointers on various interview questions that might be thrown during interview? That would be very much appreciated!

  22. We are soon going to conduct our first interview, I’m glad we came across these tips, it is always good to go be sure you have the basics covered. Thanks Alex!

  23. All 5 tips are invaluable. Tip #2 is the most important we think. Good visibility creates a much nicer video experience for the viewer. Thank you for the tips.

  24. Fairly common sense, but definitely essential tips for interviewing.

    Any specific tips for getting your subject to adhere to repeating your questions back? Is it fairly common to just ask them in the beginning of the interview to do it? What if they don’t remember? Should you continue to remind them throughout the interview?

    • I’ll let them know right before we get started so it’s top of mind. It is, however, fairly common for the subject to forget, given the circumstances. So I may have to remind them as the interview progresses.

  25. Thanks for the tips! I haven’t dipped my toes in the video pool yet, but hope to soon. These will help.