Video interview techniques

Prep your subject

  1. Remind your subject to look at you and ignore the camera. Maintaining eye contact with your subject will help reduce their urge to glace at the camera, too.
  2. If your interview subject is nervous, you can put the camera further back and zoom in to the right framing to get the camera out of their face; just make sure that your shoulder and the back of your head are not in the shot, as well!
  3. Remind your subject that you’re going to be editing their interview to get rid of any mistakes. Tell them that it’s your job to make them look good, so you’ll use the best responses they give, etc. Remind them that it’s okay to start a sentence over again if they get tripped up.
  4. Also remind your subject to use complete sentences and use specific names when answering questions.  Acknowledge that it will feel strange to use a person or organization's name over and over again instead of using pronouns [he, she, it, they], but that it will make editing easier for you. If they say, “It’s great for them to be here doing this,” try to have them repeat and say instead: “It’s great for the Center for Small Membership Churches to be here at Stafford UMC doing VBS with us.” This can be especially important in the middle of a story, as the "it" that was named at the beginning of the story will be unidentified if you edit out the beginning of the story. 

Interview questions

  1. Use small talk while you’re setting up to loosen the subject up.  Ask your throw-away, basic information questions first to get them used to being in front of a camera.
  2. Be sure you get the names (and their spelling!) of any people you interview, and their title or status (title is unnecessary for “man-on-the-street” testimonials, but nice to have, even then)
  3. Ask open-ended questions and get complete sentences (ones that won’t give you a yes/no response).
    • “Tell me about…”
    • "Why is it so important that…”
    • “How does your agency...”
  4. Sometimes you should leave a little silence after the interviewee stops talking before asking another question.  Not only does this help keep the audio clean for editing, this can prompt subjects to elaborate on their response.

Other tips

  1. Your interviewee will tend to mimic your behavior.  Try to mimic them a little, too, to keep them from feeling awkward about their expressions or energy.  Smile encouragingly with energized statements, look sympathetic during heartfelt stories, laugh silently in response to funny stories… It’s your job to make them feel comfortable!
  2. Nod in response and use facial expressions to encourage your subject, but be sure to stay quiet!  You’ll ruin your audio if you make noise while your subject is speaking.