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9 Secrets of Good Online Video Interviews

Many company representatives are finding themselves invited to do video interviews over the Internet using a technology like Skype or Google Hang-Outs. Many publications — especially technology trade magazines — have discovered that video interviews are very interesting to their readers, bringing lots of eyeballs to their site, and generate good organic search results.

However, with limited bandwidth and the fact that laptop video cameras are not really designed for high-quality video conferencing, it is imperative that both interviewer and the interview subjects try to optimize the online video interview experience. Here are a few tips that will ensure the highest quality video interview experience.

  1. Listen, think, and then talk. Don't be planning your answer until you hear the end of the question. The momentary pause is good for video and audio interviews, especially if the interview is being edited for clarity.
  2. Set up and test out your video/audio system beforehand to make sure the camera and microphone work. It doesn't matter how good the video looks if no one can understand what is being said. Make sure you have a good microphone and use headphones to prevent feedback from your computer's speakers.
  3. Find a good location with a nice simple background. Nice pastel background — with the subject at least five feet away from the back wall. If you have a logo for your business, hang it up behind you. Make sure the location is quiet; free from distractions like barking dogs, gardeners with leaf blowers, and complaining children.
  4. Make sure your face is well lit. Online video needs light — and lots of it. Turn on a light; open the window. Maybe reposition your laptop so that the light is more directly on your face.
  5. Position your video camera so that it is level with your eyes. Try to get a nice bust shot — from the top of your chest to the top of your head with a little bit of space above your head. If possible, match your head size to the head size of the interviewer.
  6. Position your chair at slight angle to the camera. Sit up straight and slightly turn your head to the camera. If in the camera shot, you are now looking slightly left, slightly move your camera so that your head is slightly on the right side of the frame. This is called “look room.” That means more room on the side that you are talking towards. Your head should be slightly to the left or to right of the center. Just a smidge. If you are looking right, your head should be more on the left side.
  7. If possible, be the complement (opposite of your interviewer). If they are looking right on camera, you should be looking left. That way it appears that you are looking at each other. If they are looking left, you should be looking right.
  8. Preplan close-ups of images, objects, and other props. If you need to hold something up, move it to the camera. It is best to discuss the use of images, charts, products, etc., before the video starts. It may be preferable to simply send the images to the publication so they can edit them in as needed. And, provide them in a video format — more or less a 3 x 4 rectangle. Look at the dimensions of your TV set or video monitor.
  9. Use the best Internet broadband connection possible. If you are using WiFi, get as close to the router as possible and make sure that all other uses stay off the network while the interview is in progress.

Follow these guidelines and your video interviews should look and sound good, and provide the audience with the info they need, as well as the promotion you want. If possible, make sure to conclude with an action statement — how and where can the customer get more information about your product, technology, and company.

22 comments on “9 Secrets of Good Online Video Interviews

  1. Himanshugupta
    June 27, 2014

    These are simple but effective suggestions for web interview. The web interviews are getting popular even for the news channels and cable network as they need not invite the people over to the studio and get bites cheaper and “on-camera”.

  2. Houngbo_Hospice
    June 27, 2014

    @Himanshugupta… You are right, web interviews are becoming more practical as they don't require much investment.

  3. FLYINGSCOT
    June 27, 2014

    What about cutting out a cardboard mask of Geroge Clooney and waering that for the interview too?

  4. SRSTechPR
    June 27, 2014

    Actually humor is always good to use on web interviews. However, as we all know. humor is tricky. What you and I find funny, others may find sinister. IE – George Clooney discussing embedded networking technologies.

  5. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    June 27, 2014

    Video is certainly getting more important and more useful. I wanted to point out that our system here at EBN supports video comments…so feel free to weigh in on vidoe. Just click on teh VIDEO COMMENT Box above the comment posting box.

  6. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    June 27, 2014

    The technical tips were most helpful….like i know light is important but not how to do it right. Thanks!

  7. _hm
    June 27, 2014

    I also like to add, ask your wife and kids to go away from room or if possible from home for that few hours.

    Sometime they make some crazy noise and sometime come just close to you. Also keep your other phones disconnected or in silent mode.

    Also be sure of EST, CT and PST timings. Else EST people catch PST guy in quite early in the morning.

  8. SRSTechPR
    June 28, 2014

    Yes absolutely. Having to pause in the middle of your video interview to answer a question from your kids or to yell at the dog to stop barking is probably not the best way to conduct a video interview.

    I did have one interview interrupted by an earthquake, Another that lost power during a lightning storm. 

    This makes the note re pausing between questions even more important.

    The pause allows whomever is conducting the interview to go in after and EASILY edit out the bad section of the video interview.

    FYI – Using a cutaway to a chart, graphic or product picture is a great way to cover up the visual jump when a section is edited out.

    FYI2 – I just discovered a French company that specializes in editing together video interviews from the footage you shot. You upload your raw video, images and 99 euros and they edit it together for you. The cool thing is that they use people – not automated algorithms. 

  9. Eldredge
    June 28, 2014

    @Mark – For me, that does provide a sinister picture in my head!

  10. Houngbo_Hospice
    June 28, 2014

    If the web interview is live, editing it might not be possible. The best way to succeed a web interview is to plan in advance and make sure that you avoid any potential distraction that may hinder the interview.

  11. ahdand
    June 29, 2014

    I agree. Sometimes they might not record it and would want the video conference be presented in the way it was originally recorded. What is your idea about video interviews using a tablet device like an ipad?

  12. ahdand
    June 29, 2014

    In Sri Lanka, since it is a small country and most of our tech businesses are based in Colombo, they always ask people to be physically present in the office for the interview. It is only when you apply for a foreign company that you have to conduct video interviews. The problem is, we don't have stable electricity supply and the electricity can suddenly go off without no warning whatsoever.

  13. ahdand
    June 29, 2014

    These are very helpful tips as well. I myself has missed a lot of things (nothing of which are actually important) because I confuse the time sometimes. Especially tennis matches and baseball matches.

  14. ahdand
    June 29, 2014

    I really didn't pay attention to the background until now. Whenever I was using this, most of the time my camera had a window in the background and I'm sure that might have been a distraction to the other party. Thanks for the tips. Much appreciated.

  15. ahdand
    June 29, 2014

    When video commenting I highly doubt that everyone here will go through the trouble of readjusting their cameras and minding about the lighting of the room. They will simply turn on the camera and say whatever they have to say. When there are a lot of video comments, people barely pay attention to every single content on every single video.

  16. Taimoor Zubar
    June 29, 2014

    For me, the biggest struggle during a video interview has always been the internet connection. The lags in voice during the interview can make it really frustrating for the interviewer. To avoid that, I try to have a very high speed link and avoid using wireless connectivity. Wired LAN often works better and has lower lags.

  17. Anand
    June 29, 2014

    For me, the biggest struggle during a video interview has always been the internet connection.

    @TaimoorZ, I think its always better to watch the video in low resolution mode if internet connection is very slow. Some times i let the complete video download and then watch the video.

  18. Anand
    June 29, 2014

    Whenever I was using this, most of the time my camera had a window in the background and I'm sure that might have been a distraction to the other party.

    @nimantha.d, I agree with you. Having a window in the background distracts the other party. Its always better to cover the windows and use artificial light to improve the brightness so that the other party can see your face properly.

  19. Anand
    June 29, 2014

    The problem is, we don't have stable electricity supply and the electricity can suddenly go off without no warning whatsoever.

    @nimantha.d, I think its always better to use laptops instead of desktops because even if the power goes you will have backup. I use small batter backup to power my wireless modem which helps me to keep the Internet connection even if there is no power supply.

  20. Anand
    June 29, 2014

    The best way to succeed a web interview is to plan in advance and make sure that you avoid any potential distraction that may hinder the interview.

    @Hospice_Houngbo, I totally agree with you. I think its always better to keep one more system ready because sometimes system gets stuck. Its always better to be near to the modem if we are using wireless modem so that we don't encounter lag.

  21. Anand
    June 29, 2014

    Also be sure of EST, CT and PST timings. Else EST people catch PST guy in quite early in the morning.

    @_hm, good point. We should also not forget to check if day light saving is applied or not. Sometimes because of day light saving confusion we miss reading the exact time.

     

  22. Anand
    June 29, 2014

    web interviews are becoming more practical as they don't require much investment.

    @Hospice_Houngbo, I agree with you. More and more interviewers are using tools like Skype to conduct web interviews. The advantage of video interview is that interviews can see the body language of the candidate and can measure his confidence levels.

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