How to Shoot a Video Interview: 5 Killer Tips

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You’re going to shoot a video interview? Great idea! It doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are 5 tips to make the process easy, fun, interesting, and productive.

1. Have a natural conversation

There’s nothing wrong with making a list of questions ahead of time, but use it as a general structure; not a rigid agenda.

The more you go off script, the more amazing, visceral moments you’ll create. I should note here that although it’s possible to “interview” yourself, you’ll get a much better result if another person is conducting the interview.

This doesn’t mean the interviewer needs to be on camera – in fact, it’s pretty common to use an “invisible” interviewer just to give the interviewee someone to talk to. There’s great value in this, because it will help the interviewee project a conversational vibe.

The more of that conversational vibe you get, the more engaging the final product will be.

2. Position the camera for intimacy

Generally speaking, if you only have one camera, it should be positioned at an angle that shows at least a four-fifths of the subject’s face. A straight-ahead angle is usually a safe bet.

How to shoot a video interview

If you have more cameras, you can add interesting angles, like direct profile shots. This can make the final product feel more dynamic, and also gives you an easy way to cut unwanted material without being obvious about it.

If the interviewer isn’t on camera, have them sit right next to the camera with their eyes at the same height as the lens and make eye contact with the interviewee. This makes it look like the interviewee is talking to someone sitting next to the viewer, which helps that conversational vibe.

An interviewee looking directly into the lens usually comes across a bit uncanny, and is more appropriate for scripted material or situations where the audience is being addressed directly.

If the interview is on camera, be sure you have a way to get close up on both faces. It’s usually best to have three cameras in this situation – one for a closeup on each subject and a third for an overall shot (“2-shot”) of both subjects. However, if you only have one camera, you can always shoot just the 2-shot if you don’t mind not being able to edit the interview without weird blips where you jump from one moment to another (“jump cuts”).

Check out this post from Pond5 for more on the technicals of interview setup.

3. Use the right kind of seats

Use chairs that don’t roll or swivel. If you don’t, the interviewee will inevitably roll and/or swivel during the filming.

Rolling and swiveling distracts the audience and comes off as nervousness. It can also cause unwanted noise in the final product.

If the interviewer is on camera, it’s a good idea to turn the seats toward each other at 30-degree angle or so. That way, the interviewer and interviewee don’t have to strain to look at each other, or worse, don’t look at each other at all.

4. React. Laugh. Get Excited.

Whether they’re on or off camera, make the interviewer a participant. The interviewer isn’t just a question-asker. They shouldn’t be afraid to contribute to the conversation and react emotionally to the interviewee.

This helps the interviewee relax and makes the whole thing feel a lot more normal. the more normal the conversation feels, the more enjoyable it will be to watch.

5. Ask Why Questions

This is the most important tip in this post. Why questions are much more enjoyable to answer than what questions, and they’ll spark answers that are much more enjoyable to watch.

Instead of asking

“What does your company do?”, ask

“Why is the work of your company important to you?”

The information will still come out, but it will come out in a way that’s more compelling to audiences.

Why questions challenge us to dig deeper and explore ourselves. It gets us off the boring talking points. When we explore ourselves with authenticity, we automatically attract attention and become interesting.

How to shoot a video interview in once sentence:

If you’re interested, then you’re interesting.

Good luck!

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