Getting ready for a video interview....
SELECTING A LOCATION.
Often, a video will contain segments culled from interviews, or scenes where customers or employees are on-camera delivering lines. There are two main considerations when deciding on a location for these interviews: the background setting, and sound issues. There may be no better place to conduct an interview than in our controlled studio environment. We have created entire set designs in our studio to provide a custom background. We also have backgrounds on hand, such as: all-white, all-black, metal, wood, colored curtains and painterly photographic curtains. We can even position the subject over our green-screen background, allowing us to put any background we desire behind the subject during the editing process. Hotels can be a possibility if we need to interview a customer or other expert at a remote location. When shooting interviews or other on-camera segments at your place of business the issues of background setting and sound will have to be addressed.
CHOOSING WHERE TO SHOOT THE INTERVIEW.
It is always desirable to select a background environment that is visually interesting. There are many settings that can be considered eye appealing, but things that definitely should be avoided include: small offices, areas with a lot of large windows or with very "bland" walls without color or decoration, areas with logos that cannot be shown, high traffic areas where the scene is interrupted by activity. Very large rooms or halls with a pronounced "echo" are also problematic. However, the area must be large enough to accommodate a few lighting instruments as well as camera gear and crew. We usually like to request a 20' x 30' room in a quiet wing of a building. That's not always possible, but rooms at least 10 feet by 10 feet are required, at the minimum. The room will also need plenty of working outlets. An appropriate comfortable chair will be required. Avoid chairs that rock, swivel or have wheels, as those movements by the chair and the subject are not good during an interview. Items that can help the scene to look more pleasing include flowers, plants, wall hangings, lamps, books, decorations, shelves with knick-knacks, etc. These items are usually "blurry" in the background and will add just a touch of colored nuance. It would be wise to collect a few items from other offices or areas of your building to augment your chosen interview location if necessary. If we are conducting more than one interview at your facility, you'll need a different location for each. Variety is good!
AVOIDING NOISY ENVIRONMENTS.
Another very important consideration is sound. The lack of any noise is very important. Try to avoid rooms near an entrance or exit, shipping and receiving areas, as well as near an elevator, break rooms, bathroom, vending machine or any other noisy distraction. Fan noise from heating/air conditioning systems is really bad and more noticeable once we get into the editing room. Can the fans be shut off for a while? Other things that cause problems are outside noises such as construction equipment, trucks or forklifts backing up (beep, beep, beep...) lawnmowers, buses, airplanes, fire and police sirens. We can wait for a noisy motorcycle to pass, but if your location is one that is nearby a fire station or airport, you may need to reconsider whether it is prudent to shoot there, and you may have to make sure the grounds crew isn't scheduled to mow that day. Our microphones are very sensitive, and these noises will be very detrimental to the interview. Often, this rules out conducting an interview on a production floor, for example, so keep this in mind when selecting locations. Visit each location beforehand and really listen to the environment. You'll be surprised at how many noises we "overlook" just because we've learned to tune them out. Microphones don't tune them out! If you spend a bit of time pre-planning by looking at possible locations, it will help us get started more quickly on shoot day. Even more optimum is to allow us to help in that process by supplying us with photos of potential locations. Better still, we could visit your location prior to the shoot to look things over and help select the ideal locations, ensuring an excellent, problem free interview session!
WHAT TO WEAR FOR AN INTERVIEW.
Each person's taste in clothing is as unique as our personalities, so it really is a personal choice. The key is to wear comfortable clothes and dress appropriately for the subject matter. If you never wear a suit and tie to work and then dress in those clothes for the interview you may feel uncomfortable. For shirts, blouses and jackets, solid colors are best. When it comes to shirts, pure white is not great. We prefer creamy off whites, or subtle tints, and solid colors (but not too bright). Avoid wild patterns and extreme stripes and herringbone patterns. It's very helpful to bring a selection of clothes, three or more blouses/shirts, and if you wear a suit a few different jackets and neckties. We'll help you select what will look best on camera and in front of the chosen background. Glasses can cause reflections and light shimmers, but we can usually work around that. If you need them to see and that's the way people know you then feel free to wear them. Most of these tips apply for others who may appear in your video whether being interviewed or performing other roles. Clothing is a big part of the overall image, so some time spent making sure it looks proper for your message is important.
HAIR AND MAKEUP ISSUES.
We will have a base powder available if it is necessary to reduce the shine reflected from our lights. Other than that, no special makeup is usually necessary for a typical interview session and we usually don't hire a stylist and/or makeup artist for a typical "corporate video" interviews. Women may want to bring along any makeup they may think is necessary and check their hair and makeup prior to recording.
PREPARING FOR THE ACTUAL INTERVIEW.
When it comes to the actual interview, we have these guidelines we like to tell our subjects:
-This is a casual interview, not an "interrogation" by the 60 Minutes crew! Think of it as a friendly conversation, where you put things in your own words and not "industry speak" or overly technical terms. Stick to your talking points and let us help you get your message across. Short answers are optimal, and it's best to keep them a few sentences as opposed to long drawn out responses. The natural tendency is to "keep talking" and often you will talk yourself into a corner this way. If it feels like you've answered the question in a few sentences, then wrap it up and stop.
-Try to remember to re-phrase the question. Most times, the viewer will not be hearing the question, so if we were to ask, "What is your company's biggest strength?" and you were to say, "Our people" the viewer won't know what you're talking about. If you replied, "One of the key reasons we are so successful here at XYZ company is our people," the viewer will then know what you are talking about and it gives us a great "edit point" when it comes to inserting the reply into the final video.
-While it is good for you to know the overall goals of the video and the subject matter being covered, try not to memorize information. If you need to review certain facts beforehand, that is fine. But you will likely frustrate yourself when trying to deliver the "perfect" set of facts and figures in your response so don't over-prepare. Instead, let us try to get the information across through our line of questions. If you think it will be helpful, we can provide an overview of the line of questioning, but again, if you "over-prepare" for the interview your answers may come across as rehearsed or unnatural. If you need a few minutes to organize your thoughts after we ask the question, no problem. And many times we will ask the same question more than once, so you'll have a chance to "improve" your reply if you think you didn't do your best on a particular response.
-Don't look at the camera. We will position an interviewer next to the camera, so maintain all eye contact with that person. It's very important to ignore others in the room and focus on the questioner as if they are the only person in the room.
-Before you answer the question take a slight pause. If you "jump right in" while the interviewer is still finishing the question, it is possible we won't be able to use your answer. After you are done answering, maintain eye contact with the interviewer for a few seconds. This gives us the chance to transition to the next video clip without seeing your eyes dart off into another direction.
-Don't "give up" on a certain response. We've had many great replies rendered unusable because the subject immediately followed up the reply with, "Oh that was terrible." Sometimes if it doesn't feel right to you, it might still have been very good, and even if the entire reply wasn't perfect, there might be a few good gems within it that we can use. You may not be on camera throughout your entire response, so we can often stitch together a reply to remove things like minor stumbles and long pauses.
-If this sounds like a lot to remember, don't worry! We'll remind you of most of these items the day of the interview, and offer plenty of friendly advice to make sure you look and sound your best! You might be surprised at how little of the interview gets used in the end, as the goal of every video is to keep things moving with succinct information and a variety of people and images. Even though that is the case, your entire interview is valuable and we are learning information from different perspectives that help us to mold the final video and incorporate into the script. The key is to relax and try to enjoy the process. We're interviewing you because you're extremely knowledgeable and articulate about a subject.
If you follow these interview tips, that knowledge and passion will come out naturally, and you will shine on camera!