Michigan Ross iMpact

Leading in Thought & Action

Interviewing Tips



There is a lot more to recording a successful interview than a microphone and camera. You need to make sure you have ample lighting, quality sound, and know how to capture the shots you need. Not only that, but your subject needs some preparation to ensure a Q&A session that can be edited effectively.

LOCATION

Decide where you want to conduct the interview - in an office setting or perhaps on location.  Be sure to film some establishing shots as a segue to the interview. Zoom and pan slowly when filming these shots. 

Whenever possible, use both the tripod and the lavaliere microphone for interviews. These two things are the best way to make sure your video looks and sounds professional.  For "on the street" interviews, they aren't as important, but for seated interviews, they are a must.

AUDIO

For interviewing, it is highly recommended that you record using only the camcorder's battery, not using power from a wall socket. Computers and other equipment can create static and other "noise" in the power current. Charge your camcorder's battery before you interview, and recharge it during breaks, if you can. 

Use headphones to check the audio quality as you tape. If the camcorder isn't plugged into the wall, and you're still getting static in the audio, change the microphone's battery, and check to see that the microphone cord isn't draped over an electric cord.

LIGHTING

Proper lighting is essential to a professional interview tape. You need to check the white balance of the lighting - light can have different colors, especially with reflections from colors in the area. The location of the light is also important. If the light is bad, change the location of your interview.

FRAMING THE SHOT

A successful and professional interview begins with location and setting up the shot. The following tips and guidelines will help you shoot a quality interview:
  • Do not film your subject in profile
  • Position the camera so that it focuses on the subject from an angle somewhat over the interviewer's shoulder
  • Have the subject look at the interviewer, not the camcorder
  • Leave a little space in front of the eyeline
  • The background should not be too busy or too plain. Do not film your subject against a plain wall

COACHING THE INTERVIEW SUBJECT

You want your interview to record and edit easily and professionally. Coach your subject on how you need to conduct the interview so you can get exactly the Q&A you need:

  • Encourage the subject to make stand-alone sound bites:
    "I feel teambuilding was a really important part of my MBA experience" vs. "Teambuilding was really important"
     
  • Encourage the subject to restate the question as part of their answer:
    "What did you think of the president's speech?" "I thought the president's speech was..."
     
  • Ask the subject to hold position for a second or two before and after answering each question, to give you room to fade in and out in the finished video.