Video: the Interview

Video: the Interview

Take out that pen and paper again and think about interviewing.

If you could interview anyone, who would it be? What would you ask first?

The art of the pre-interview

The pre-interview is a conversation you have with your subject before you sit down to film the interview for your video.

You must, must, must always pre-interview your subject. I cannot emphasize enough how important this step is. It can be over the phone, in person, preferably in a form in which you can hear their voice and get an idea of how they speak.

What if they speak in monotone and never change their tone of voice or ever show emotion? They probably are not the person someone would want to watch on video for 3 minutes. That doesn’t discredit their expertise or value, they could still be a great source for information or an interview for a written piece.

For video you want to have someone engaging that draws the viewer in.

When pre-interviewing do not ask the exact same questions as you will ask in the actual interview, you can ask them about the subject of your video but try to avoid asking the same questions you are planning to ask on film, you do not want them to sound overly rehearsed on camera. Try to avoid providing them with your list of questions ahead of time. I usually just give them an outline of the topics I will cover.

You want to allow the interview to sound more conversational and less like they are reading a script of pre-written answers.


Asking good questions

Before going into an interview, do your research! Research your interview subject, research what you’re going to ask them about and pre-interview your subject. This is the most important part.

Bring a list of questions to use as a guide for the interview but do not feel as if you need to stick to it! If they say something that surprises you, voice that, ask follow up questions, challenge them on their beliefs and convictions. It makes for a more interesting interview.


Here’s an example of a list of questions I used when interviewing my parents about biking in Madison, Wisconsin. 

interview questions.png


Shooting the interview

  • Remember the rule of thirds? This is when you have to use it!
rule of thirds diagram.png


  • And remember the light behind? You’ve got to do that to! 

  • Make sure you are sitting or standing on your interviewee’s level, if they’re sitting you’re sitting. You don’t want them to be looking up or down on camera, it’s awkward.
  • Mind your background – you don’t want a lot of movement or a busy background, but a white screen can get pretty boring.
  • Ask your interviewee an easy and human question first to get them comfortable. Something they know and don’t have to think about, like “what did you have for breakfast?”