Conducting and Filming Remote Interviews
Tips for Successful Remote Interviewing
Thanks to ever-evolving technology, remote interviews are becoming a popular option for marketing and content creation. Not only do they allow your subject to speak from the comfort of their own setting, but they’re also timesaving, budget-friendly, and convenient.
Filming a remote interview is fairly simple. It can also yield fantastic material for your marketing—from internal videos featuring the company president to clips posted on various social media channels, ad campaigns, and more.
There are a few tips to consider if you’re planning to conduct and film a remote interview. What filming approach should you take? How do you set the scene? What tips should you give your subject? What’s the best way to transcribe an interview? If you’re wondering how to dip your toes into the remote interviewing world or simply make your existing process better, these tips can help.
Determine your filming approach. Depending on your technical expertise, you have a few options. You can send your subject an interview kit—which might include a smartphone, camera, tripod, microphone, and other materials—and conduct the interview via video call while they record themselves. Or, you can record the interview directly on your preferred video call software, like Zoom or Teams, in your chosen method:
- Split-screen. In this approach, both you and your subject are on the screen at the same time. This simple format comes with standard video call software.
- Cut back and forth. Like a television broadcast, you can cut back and forth between full-screen recordings of multiple subjects and interviewers.
- Picture-in-picture. The interviewee takes up most of the screen, while the interviewer appears in the corner in a small window.
- Combined. Combining recording methods can add more visual interest to your video.
Give clear instructions. If you’re sending video equipment or other technology to your interviewee, make sure they’re comfortable using it. Write detailed instructions such as equipment setup, interview location tips, how to join the interview meeting, and any other important information. More details are better; don’t assume that your subject already knows how to operate an iPhone.
Set the scene. Encourage your interviewee to choose a location that is:
- Quiet. Stay away from lawnmowers, dryers, AC units, and other potential disruptions. If children are nearby and not needed on camera, ask them to move to another room while recording.
- Clutter-free. The space behind the subject should be organized and clear. If appropriate, encourage them to show their personality by placing some of their favorite things in the background—like books, photos, trophies, etc.
- Well-lit. If possible, the subject should sit facing a window with indirect sunlight on their face. They can also place lamps in front of them on both sides, but make sure the lamps don’t show up on camera. Subjects should avoid having windows behind them, sitting directly under a light, or turning on overhead lights.
Do a tech rehearsal. Schedule time for your subject to make sure they feel comfortable with the technology before the interview. Leave enough time to troubleshoot any potential issues and answer questions they may have. Do a soundcheck and make sure you can hear the subject before your interview starts.
Charge it. Remind your subject to charge whichever devices they’re using. They should use chargers during the interview to maintain constant power, but you don’t want to start off the interview with a dead device.
Tips for the Interviewee
- Don’t fidget. Playing with hands, twirling hair, and jiggling legs can be distracting.
- Talk to the camera. Speak clearly and facing the camera at all times; don’t look down. Enunciate your words and speak in full sentences. If you stutter or stumble, know that you can do another take or repeat your answer.
- Dress it up. Wear bright, solid colors and avoid small, subtle patterns. Be careful wearing anything reflective or noisy (such as clicking bracelets or clanging earrings).
- Be mindful of long hair. Make sure it lays well.
Consider these tips for conducting the interview:
- Help the interviewee feel at ease. If they are nervous, it will show on camera.
- Ask clear, short questions.
- Set the interviewee up for success. Explain the process to them before you start—rephrase questions rather than giving one-word answers, face the camera, pause a few seconds after the question is asked before responding, etc.
- Never ask questions with “yes or no” answers. Instead, ask open-ended questions.
- Do not speak over the end of the interviewee’s answer. Similarly, tell the interviewee not to begin talking until you are done asking your question.
- Try to be silent while your subject is responding, so your voice doesn’t get recorded over the answer (don’t say “yes” or “uh-huh”).
- If you notice a stutter or background noise during the interviewee’s responses, ask them to answer the question again for another take. It helps to have a second person with you to look for these instances.
- Ensure the interview flows well. Don’t jump between subjects without purpose.
- Maintain eye contact with the interviewee. This will prevent them from looking into the camera and keep them looking in the proper direction.
After the Interview
Congratulations! The interview is done. Now you need to sift through the information and determine which clips you’d like to use.
If you’re using part of the interview content in a written campaign, transcribing the interview might be your first step. Otter.ai is a helpful tool that transcribes interviews, meetings, or other recordings. It’s quite useful and time-saving, especially because it eliminates the need to write out everything word-for-word. However, you shouldn’t rely on Otter to transcribe every word correctly, so you’ll need to run through the document and make any necessary changes.
As you’re learning your preferred method for remote interviewing, take notes on what worked well—and what might not have worked so well. Technology hiccups are normal, but taking note of them and how to avoid them can help you produce even better content in the future. However, preparation is key, and adequately preparing before your next remote interview is the best way to avoid problems up front.
If you still need help getting your message out there, Graphcom’s creative team can bring your story to life with remote and in-person interviews, creative videos, memorable written campaigns, and much more.
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