Video interviews can be an effective way to communicate ideas or information.

Stand-up interview with microphone and camera

This page provides some tips for planning and presenting a successful interview that is recorded outside of the studio, as well as information on what to expect when doing the recording. Interviews typically have one interviewer and can have one, two, and sometimes three interviewees.

If you are preparing for an interview being recorded in our studio, please visit Preparation for Recording an Interview in the Discovery Commons Studio. 


If you have questions, need support, or would like to discuss best practices, contact Janet Koecher, Educational Technologist

There are two interview formats that we typically use: interviewer on camera and interviewer off camera:

Interviewer On Camera: This is what you usually see in interview shows; the interviewer is seen and heard asking questions on set with the interviewee(s). The interviewer can interview one person or two people at a time. Three (one interviewer and two interviewees) is the most that can be comfortably accommodated in the Discovery Commons' studio.

Interviewer Off Camera: In this case, the interviewer is not seen or heard, and the role of the interviewer is to elicit answers that will form a stand-alone video of the interviewee only. These are conducted  as one-on-one interviews. In the finished video, the questions may appear as text on screen, or may not appear at all and the interviewee's answers will be edited to form the content of the video.

The Environment (MSB 3283A)

The criteria for the location of the interview include:

One-to-one interview with cameras and microphones
  • relatively quiet space
  • interesting, and if appropriate, relevant background (e.g., a clinic for a clinical interview), but not too distracting (usually we have the backround out of focus to assist with this)
  • space enough for several people, chairs, and equipment

At least one technician will be with you taking care of all of the technical considerations, and another audio-visual person may be present to provide more general support.
The interview will be shot with 1, 2 or 3 cameras, depending on the situation, and may include any of the following:

  • one camera that will be capturing you from approximately the waist up
  • another camera that will be a wider shot, capturing you and the one or two others in the interview from head to toe
  • a third camera that will capture the other subjects from approximately the waist up

Because there may be elements in the field of view of the camera or noise over which we have no control, there may be times that we'll need to interrupt the shooting of the interview until the disruption has passed.

The interview can be done standing or sitting, but the participants should be either all standing or all sitting.

On-Camera Tips

  • turn off your phone
  • avoid tapping, coughing, rustling of paper 
  • avoid looking around the room at anyone other than your interviewer or interviewee during the interview:
    • you'll be asked to look at the other person while you speak
    • do not look at the camera, the technician, or any other people that may be in the room
    • if you need to look elsewhere to think--not everyone can look directly at someone else all the time--find a place in the room to which your eyes can wander that isn't in line with the cameras
  • As much as possible, reduce ums and ahs while you speak

Notes for the Onscreen Interviewer

  • provide the questions to the interviewee(s) in order that they can prepare
  • you will be captured by the camera even when your interviewee is answering questions
    • you should appear interested in their answer, nodding and otherwise reacting (silently) as appropriate. However, do not vocalize while they are speaking (eg: uh huh, yes, mmhmm, throat clearing, etc)
  • if you wish, you may have notes on a clipboard, but note that this will appear in the video
    • if you do use notes:
      • don't read from them when you ask your questions. If necessary, read the question silently, then look at your interviewee and ask the question
      • ensure that the notes you need are only on one or two pages to minimize paper rustling
  • if necessary, you can take breaks between questions
  • When you are finished the interview, maintain your eye contact with the interviewee for 2- 3 seconds after your last word. That is, do not laugh, vocalize, roll your eyes, say "whew!" etc, until 2 - 3 seconds has passed. This allows time for a fade out or an edit to another shot in the finished video.

Notes for the Interviewee

  • prepare for the interview by getting the questions in advance and formulating your answers
  • be succinct and to the point. Avoid repeating yourself in an answer and using different words to say the same thing
  • if you make an error in an response or trip on your words, you can pause and then redo it. If it's easy to do, go back to the beginning of your answer and redo it; if you've successfully covered a fair amount of ground, just redo the sentence where you made the mistake. We can edit out the mistake.
  • in conversation or presentations, we often begin our sentences with certain words, such as, "So," or "Well." Try to avoid this.
    • While not very noticeable in regular conversation, it is noticeable and potentially distracting in videos
    • It will be pointed out to you if you're doing this (you likely don't realize you're doing it). A technique to avoid it is to:
      • pause after the interview question is asked and consider how you will answer
      • when you begin to answer, be mindful of saying the first word of the answer and leaving out the common word. Say the common word in your head, if necessary, and start your vocalization with the first word of the answer
  • if you'e doing an Interviewer-Off-Camera interview  (in which the interviewer won't be seen or heard on the video), incorporate the question into your answer. For example, to the question, "What is the role of the preceptor in this rotation?" your answer would begin, "The role of the preceptor in Ophthalmology is..." In addition to helping your answers stand on their own, it tends to allow you to better focus your answer to the question being asked
  • When you are finished the interview, maintain your eye contact with the interviewer for 2 - 3 seconds after your last word. That is, do not laugh, vocalize, roll your eyes, say "whew!" etc, until 2 - 3 seconds has passed. This allows time for a fade out or an edit to another shot in the finished video

Hair, Make up, and Wardrobe

Unfortunately, we don’t have a budget for hair, make up, or wardrobe. Here are some tips on what to wear: 

  • If you normally wear make up, wear the same amount as you usually do
  • Avoid bright, reflective jewelry
  • Do NOT wear clothing with small patterns, such as tight stripes or herringbone, as this will shimmer on the video (Moiré effect) and be distracting
The Moiré Effect

Getting Set Up

It will take about 10 – 15minutes after you arrive to complete the technical set up.

  • During this time, you will be asked to stay in front of the camera
  • You can use this time to review the questions and answers
  • You can also talk to the technician at this time to communicate anything particular about the interview, or ask questions
  • The technician may ask for a sound check, during which you should ask and answer one or two questions in the voices you will be using during the interview
  • When the set up is complete and you’re ready, the technician will signal for you to begin
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