Before the Interview
Make sure the subject is comfortable: Filming can make some people stressed or nervous. Make sure this is minimized by encouraging the subject to get comfortable. You can help this along by making sure that there are no physical barriers. Make sure the seat you’ve chosen is comfortable to sit in, that there aren’t any bright lights or glare in their eyes, and that they have water on hand to drink before the interview if desired (just make sure the water glass doesn’t end up in the shot).
Instruct the subject not to look at the camera: It can be very hard to figure out where to look when you’re being interviewed on video – between the interviewer, the camera, and whomever else is in the room to help out, it’s very common for the subject to have their eyes dart around the room throughout the interview. To avoid this problem, remove the ambiguity and ask the subject to simply focus on whomever is asking the questions for the interview, and do their best to ignore the camera or whoever else is in the room.
Ask the subject to repeat the question in their answer: It’s common practice to remove the questioning portion of the video in the edit, leaving just portions of the subjects answers. For this reason, ask the subject to repeat or paraphrase the question asked at the start of their answer. As an example:
Question: “Why did you decide to move here?”
Answer: “The reason I decided to move here was because…”
Encourage the subject to repeat themselves throughout the interview: the same topic multiple times throughout an interview. Let them know that this is not only natural, but encouraged! Repetition within an interview allows for more options in the edit, and often as the subject goes over a topic again they will add more nuance to it as they process their thoughts more fully.
During the interview:
Feel free to break off script: Having a set of questions is very helpful in keeping an interview on track and ensuring all desired topics are covered. That being said, the questions are there to bring out good answers from the subject, and if there is a topic or story the subject brings up that you feel would be worth diving further into, go for it! Candid, authentic, conversation and stories make for impactful and effective video content. Just keep track of where you left off on the question list so that you can pick up where you left off and get all your bases covered.
Make sure not to interrupt the subject: Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with a line of questioning, or not want to forget a follow up question on something that was just said. In addition to making sure the subject is comfortable, being extra careful about an avoidance of interrupting contributes in another way: Clean audio. Rushing into the next question as the subject is finishing their answer means there’s an overlap of voices, which can be difficult or impossible to remove in the edit. Help keep the subject at ease and the audio clean by being extra careful to not interrupt.
Be okay with a little bit of silence: Sometimes it’s easy to want to fill every bit of silence, but silence doesn’t always mean that the subject doesn’t have anything to say. Before rushing into the next question, give a pause to see if they’re just gathering their thoughts, or even ask them if they have more to add. Ultimately, silences can be taken out in editing, but answers that were never said can’t be added after the fact.