Pro-Tips: Conducting Interviews for Video

If you are a marketing manager, training professional, or business owner and you need to make a video, then this blog is for you.

The purpose of this post is to provide you with advice on how to conduct a video interview, The purpose of this post is to provide you with advice on how to conduct a video interview, and generate a conversation about technique. So, please comment and let me know your experience.

Recently, I received some great feedback from a reader, Kameko, that inspired this post. She is a training professional who makes videos for her company and, like many of us, she has to wear a lot of hats to get her job done. She said:

“As a former recruiter, I’m pretty strong when it comes to interviewing candidates for jobs, but I feel like I have a lot of growth opportunity when interviewing people to discuss specific content. Are there any tips or resources you could share?”

Here are some tips divided into before, during, and after recording.


Research: The more I can learn about my interviewee the better. I google my subjects, look them up on Linkedin, and ask my contacts for any insight that may help me make a connection quickly so that I can uncover the best soundbites.

Questions: I generate a list of about 10 open-ended questions that will give the interviewee a chance to provide an answer in their own words. Use follow-up questions to help clarify.

Pre-interview: Whenever possible, I test my questions out before the cameras roll by doing an interview over the phone. This isn’t always possible, but I ask every time because I never know if someone is willing. During the phone interview, I take notes and ask follow-up questions to dive deeper. This is INVALUABLE. It puts the interviewee at ease on the day of recording, and unearths plot nuggets that improve the overall story.

Coach: I ask, “Have you ever done this before?” If yes, I ask them about their experience; what worked, what they liked, what they wished they’d done differently. If they answer no they’ve never done this before, then I explain the process:

“It will just be you and I talking, except there will be a bunch of people and stuff around us. I think you will do great. Try to look at me and focus on…” (Interested in the full coaching script? Ask me for it

War ALWAYS talk about what the interviewee will wear. Check out “What should I wear on camera?” for more information about wardrobe choices in a video.


Name: Ask them to state and spell their name and if it’s appropriate, provide their  job title. Every editor I’ve worked with has thanked me for this! It makes the creation of a lower third easier to create. Misspelling an interviewee’s name hurts everyone!  

Praise: From the time we are born, we like to be praised. Compliment your interviewee throughout the interview. Don’t be annoying or over the top, but genuinely point out when they say something you like. Saying “thanks” or “well-said,” or simply nodding in approval can keep the energy upbeat, which can help someone who is nervous or self-deprecating.

Coach: Steering a business video interview is critical to creating a strong message. If your interviewee wanders off topic, bring them back with a refocusing question. If they answer the question, but it took 30 seconds and you want it to be five seconds, ask them to “shorten it” and explain what that means. If they are fidgety or their eyes are darting around like an interrogation, then ask them to take a breath, have a sip of water, cross their ankles if they are seated, and look at you. If they are standing, show them how to stand contrapposto with the instep of one foot touching the heel of their other foot for a firm base that prevents swaying.

Ask and Be Quiet: Let the interviewee do the talking and discipline yourself to keep quiet. Even though it has become trendy to hear the interviewer off-camera, it can appear amateurish in a business video.

Shorten it: At times an interviewee may be loquacious. This is a video editor’s nightmare. In this situation, I will ask my interviewee to “shorten it,.”  by explaining, “I love what you said about x. Can you say it again but shorten it to a sentence?”

Feed them: Sometimes an interviewee cannot settle in and deliver, or sometimes they expound too much on one question. If this happens, try feeding them a line. Talk about the best way to say something, and say it to them. Ask them to say it back to you, praise them, and then ask them to say it again. You can also feed them the beginning of a sentence that answers the question (editors will love you for this too).

Say it three ways: Professional talent will often deliver certain lines in three ways. Recording three different inflections, speeds, and/or tones, gives me options during the editing process. I can choose the type of delivery that will fit the story the best. This technique works well with both professionals and nonprofessionals. Don’t be afraid to direct the interviewee. Encourage them to emote.

Super-nervous quick fix: If someone is really nervous, but they’re fine talking with you off-camera try the quick fix. Typically, we call “roll camera” to begin recording and “cut” when we want to stop recording. To employ the quick fix, we will pre-arrange with the camera operator to ignore my request to stop recording when we say “cut”. Once the interviewee thinks the camera is off, they just start talking. They deliver candid answers without nerves getting in the way.


Praise & Thank: Once the interview is over, genuinely tell the interviewee what you liked about their delivery. After saying something nice about their interview, thank them for their time and their help in making the video.

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