How Should I Prepare For An On-Camera Interview?

Something we get asked a lot when working with clients is “how do I prepare for an on-camera interview?”

Sometimes a “talking-head style” interview is the right fit for your film or video, and when used correctly they can be an effective tool that not only showcase your brand’s personality but encourage real, human connections and engagement amongst your viewers. However, a lot of the time people are nervous to be on camera; they are worried that they will make a mistake or won’t like how they sound and/or appear in the final video. So, because i’m a clever-clogs who also happens to tire of her own voice after a while (believe it or not) I decided to create this blog post that details everything you should expect on the shoot day and what you can do to prepare yourself for it.

1. Don’t Rehearse Your Answers

 
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This doesn’t mean don’t have a think in advance about the kinds of topics you would like to cover. In fact, before the shoot date we will have liaised with you thoroughly to ensure that we know exactly what the values of your business are, what the aim of your video is and exactly what message you are trying to convey. On the shoot date we will ask interview questions that will prompt statements in line with this vision, and we will have corresponded with you throughout the entire process to be sure that we are all on the same page. So, don’t worry. We won’t throw any question at you that you won’t be able to answer. We will also tailor our questioning on the day depending on the answers you give, and the interview will be fluid and conversational but always in keeping with the end objective and vision. So, the most important piece of advice I can give is this: don’t plan or rehearse your answers. Planned statements lead to robotic, insincere answers. You want to appear genuine, and I promise you that any semblance of personality will be stripped away the moment you begin to recite a pre-planned answer. You are not a plank of wood or a robot (i’m assuming) - so why would you want to sound like one when addressing your viewers? Similarly, feel free to deviate from the question if you remember an anecdote or suddenly recall something relevant. We are in no hurry, we have set aside adequate time to capture your interview and the most important thing to us is ensuring that we hear exactly what you want to say. This is your video, so please don’t censor yourself.


2. Wear Something Comfortable

 
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You look lovely, I promise. Don’t feel the need to dress up like you’re heading to the Baftas (unless that’s your usual, day-to-day attire in which case - you do you Boo!) Wear something you’re comfortable in, something you feel confident in and, most importantly, something that you won’t be distracted by. That skin-tight, leather mini skirt may make your legs look AMAZING, but if it rides up when you sit down and displays your nether-regions to everyone within a 4 mile radius it may not be the best thing to wear on the shoot day. You should aim to represent yourself in a way that is true to who you are when you are representing your business - again, you want to be authentically, undeniably you.

Things to avoid are:

  • Noisy jewellery - this can play havoc with audio capture

  • Random logos and slogans, or noisy/distracting patterns - make sure everything is on brand and not distracting to the viewer!

  • Anything that you wouldn’t usually wear - you don’t want to look back on the video and wish you had stuck to your tried and tested styles (this includes crazy new hairstyles or makeup looks)

  • Smudged glasses - if you wear glasses, give them a clean before the interview! There is nothing more distracting than grease marks where your eyes should be


3. Expect To Be Asked To Repeat Something Or Try Your Answer Again

Sometimes we will ask you to rephrase your answer, or ask you to sum up your answer more concisely. This doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong or have said the wrong thing. More often than not it means we love what you just said, and we’re picturing how it will slot in during the edit alongside everything else you’ve already said. Asking you to rephrase something or say it again in fewer words is just our way of planning ahead and ensuring that we can convey the correct messages in your final film or video. Sometimes we may love what you said, but feel as though it was a bit rushed/said a little too quickly. In this case, we will ask you to say it again but more slowly. Again, this just makes it easier for us when it comes to the edit as slower speaking is easier to cut up in post. Also, sometimes asking you to repeat something simply means that we’ve picked up on some background noise that may have interfered with what you said. We are blessed (cursed?) with superhuman, filmmaker hearing that means we pick up on things that normally pass us by. Dog barking outside? Loud airplane overhead? Car zooming down the street? Neighbour kicking their husband out next door and screaming something about “MY SISTER?!” No worries, let’s cut and try that answer again. Similarly, if you say something wrong don’t be afraid to ask to try again. If your words turn to gibberish mid-sentence or you say something you don’t mean then just let us know and we will try the answer again. Don’t be shy, we all make mistakes. But...


4. Don’t Worry If You Make A Mistake

 
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If you mess up, don’t worry. It happens. We can try again and, ultimately, we can work around a whole host of mess-ups in post. In the edit we will take a look at everything you have said and pick the best bits. Sometimes we will take half of one sentence and half of another and merge them together if we feel that it conveys the correct thing. You really don’t need to be perfect, and in a lot of cases the “erms” and the pauses make us seem more human, more genuine and thoughtful and, ultimately, more trustworthy. Keep calm (easier said than done, I know) and remember that we are there to make you look good. We aren’t going to use anything that misrepresents you or your brand, so take your time and have fun with it!

5. Remember To Rephrase The Question In Your Answer

In the edit, we will remove the voice of the person asking you the question. This means that your answers need to sound like stand-alone statements that make sense when the question is removed. Try to remember to rephrase the question in your answer. If you forget, no biggie, we will just stop you and ask you to try again.

6. No, you won’t sound how you imagined you would!

Nor will you necessarily fall in love with how you look on camera (although you really should, have you seen yourself lately? #dayyummmm) Rarely do we watch back footage of ourselves and love the way we look and sound. It is human nature to seek out and find the flaws in ourselves that nobody else would ever notice but remember, and I can’t stress this enough, nobody is seeing the things you are seeing. I overcame this struggle by pretending that the person on the screen was somebody else entirely. When you watch the film back, try to imagine that the person you are seeing is somebody else. I often refer to myself as “she” or “her” if i’m editing footage of myself, and it makes it easier to view the footage objectively and gives me the best indication of how it comes across to other people. Also, your voice is going to sound funny to you. We don’t hear our own voices the way that everybody else hears them so yes, you really do sound like that and no, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

7. Smile

 
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Smiling is a universally recognised language. It makes you appear warm, trustworthy and genuine. Don’t be afraid to laugh or smile (unless the subject matter makes it inappropriate to do so). Likewise, don’t be afraid to show genuine emotion. Don’t hold back, this is your chance to share your story and expertise so do so in the most authentic way possible - whether that means laughing, crying or anything in-between!

8. Be Yourself!

There is only one you. You have a personality so let it shine! The people watching your video or film are so much more likely to enjoy the experience and relate to you if you come across as an actual human being. Nobody trusts a robot (especially not Will Smith, but that’s another story for another time) so don’t be one. Loosen up, make mistakes, laugh, cry, and enjoy the experience. We aren’t there to make you uncomfortable. We have left so many client jobs smiling from ear to ear and feeling as though we really got to know somebody. We are interested in you, your story and above all we want to tell it in the best way possible. We will do everything we can on the day to make you comfortable but, ultimately, the rest is down to you!

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Teri Moran

Teri is our resident producer, writer and cat-lover. Rumour has it she makes shot-lists in her sleep, and only eats popcorn and her words. She enjoys long walks on the beach, complaining about her sunburn after long walks on the beach and generally looking like she knows what she’s doing when really she’s singing Taylor Swift songs to herself in her head and thinking about where her next coffee is coming from.