Asked to record a video interview — and want to make sure you do your best? No worries. Just check out the following simple tips, tricks and best practices to help you achieve high-quality results when making your flicks.
First things first, you never want to “wing it.” Plan out your key talking points, how you're going to highlight your strengths and more.
Of course, getting prepared ahead of time in this way doesn’t mean simply reading off a piece of paper, or robotically reciting memorized lines, once you hit record. Instead, try to seem at once professional and spontaneous (just the way you are in real life).
Finally, once you hit record, don’t worry about getting a perfect take. If you make a minor error, that's fine. The video will feel more genuine as a result. That said, small mistakes are one thing, but appearing unsure of yourself is another. You’re the expert, so you should appear confident, calm and professional in the finished product.
selecting the right background
Your "set" — that is, the backdrop, lighting and framing you use in your video interview — can be nearly as important as the words that you speak. (Think about how films use carefully selected backgrounds to visually underscore certain themes or moods, for example.) Here are a few helpful guidelines for curating the perfect "set" for your video interview.
- The background should not be cluttered or messy.
- Remove any irrelevant objects or branded material.
- Find a quiet space with limited foot traffic.
- Choose a setting that’s complementary to your on-camera wardrobe.
- Avoid backdrops that call too much attention away from you (after all, your video interview should shine a spotlight on your candidacy — and nothing else).
- If possible, avoid sitting in a high-backed chair (it sometimes looks awkward on camera).
The right lighting helps set the right tone for video interview. So use it wisely. And bear in mind, you don’t need to go out and buy fancy studio lights to be successful. Just get creative with available light sources — and know what to avoid.
Some simple suggestions for your next video interview:
avoid shooting directly under overhead lighting
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often rookies with a camera wind up recording directly under overhead lighting. In the event that you can’t turn off or otherwise modify the lights, you can always move your seat and computer away from underneath them.
don't use backlighting
Sitting in front of a window or other similarly intense light source will create video footage that is almost unusable. On the flip side, facing the window often produces bright, but well-balanced lighting effects.
evenly distribute your lighting
In technical terms, this means using diffuse (or "soft") light. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways: placing a lampshade (or other object) in front of the light to soften it, for example. Or just moving your light source farther away.
a cell phone flashlight is not a light source
Not only will it quickly kill your battery, using your cell phone flashlight as a light source creates extremely harsh light that's seldom aesthetically pleasing. Try to find more natural light sources, instead. Even the glow of a computer screen will typically yield better results.
watch out for the sun
Direct sunlight is sometimes too harsh for the camera (not to mention bad for your skin). Plus, you don't want to record a video interview in which you're squinting the whole time.
Always try to use some form of stabilization. While phones these days are equipped with increasingly improved image-stabilization capabilities, no matter how steady your hands are, nothing beats a computer for stability.
However, if you're stuck shooting handheld video interview using your phone, here are some tips to help you stabilize your shot:
- Keep the phone close to your body.
- Rest your elbows on a nearby object.
- Use your body to absorb bounces and shakes.
- Use the "window method" (press and hold the phone against a window, with the camera pointed towards yourself).
You've got a nice setting, the lighting is great and you’re just about ready to shoot — almost. Before you hit record, let's take a moment to fine-tune that shot.
shoot in landscape mode
You should always be shooting in landscape mode. Unless you're specifically utilizing a platform that supports vertical video, this rule will hold true for all projects. Nothing ruins great footage like having two black vertical bars along both sides of your video.
keep things at eye level
Set up the camera so that the framing is level with your eyes, or slightly above.
center yourself in the frame
Make sure you're not off to one side of the frame. Keep your candidacy front and center.
don't use the digital zoom
Most smartphones feature digital zooms, which is really just software that makes whatever is in the frame appear closer. Unfortunately, one major downside to digital zoom is that it can lead to ugly pixelation. So if you want to get a tighter shot, you'll have to physically move (or move the camera) closer.
The phone you’re filming with will also record audio, but it’s probably not going to be the best quality (unless you’re in a very small and quiet room). To get better audio, consider recording with a second device — and keep it as close to you as possible.
final tip: check your tech beforehand
Be sure to check the amount of available memory and battery life on your phone, computer, recording device — as well as any other relevant tech — ahead of time. You don't want to waste valuable shooting time scrolling through photos and videos, deciding what to delete to free up the necessary space. Likewise, you don't want to abruptly end a great video interview simply on account of a dead or dying battery.
Keep these simple tips in mind and your next video interview is bound to be a success.