How should I prepare for a video interview?

Omnislash – AMA (Ask me Anything)

This is a common question amongst first time interviewees and a pretty understandable one. Being interviewed is intimidating as hell; unless you have done this dozens of time before or you’re one of those extroverts I hear so much about. I am going to outline a couple tips that I find help put some worries to bed (You might still have some butterflies, but you will be much better off than not knowing the details).

Wardrobe

What do I wear?

I recommend bringing a few changes of clothes (2-3) to be safe. This may feel excessive but there are a few factors that influence if the interviewer might want you to change clothes.

  • The color of your outfit conflicts with the background.  This might be because they are shooting on a green screen and your top may have green in it, or if there’s no green screen, there might not be enough contrast in your outfit to make you pop off of the background.  We want you to shine; not for you to blend in to the scenery.

  • The pattern on your shirt results in a thing called Moiré.  I know what you are thinking…this must be some fancy french film word, but unfortunately, it is more mundane than that.   

    Moiré is something that happens when a pattern on a top is too detailed and when it is filmed, it looks like the shirt is almost vibrating or shaking a little bit.  It can be subtle, but it still draws the viewers to your outfit and distracts from your message.

    I won’t go into too much detail of the technical side, but usually it is best to avoid very detailed patterns and opt for a solid color, or a larger patterned shirt.

Don't Wear

Green Outfit on Green Background
Don't Wear

Do Wear

red outfit on green background
Do Wear

Questions

What will I be asked?

Leading up to the interview, discuss with your interviewer what questions they might ask. We don’t want to script your answers, but knowing the questions beforehand might pop some ideas into your head, so you aren’t thrown off-guard when they are asked.

Personally, I like to structure an interview where it is more of a conversation, and less of a formal structured line of questioning. We aren’t interrogating you; we want you to engage us in a conversation on the message and give us well-rounded answers that we can use. In my opinion, this style of interview has resulted in people being much more comfortable and yields much better answers.

  • For the purpose of video editing, it is always best to rephrase the question back into your answer. It doesn’t have to be crazy, but a simple acknowledgment of the question back into the answer results in a useable response.

For example, Here’s a mock question for our interviewee Wile. E. Coyote.

“How long have you been with ACME and what is your role here”

An appropriate response might be: “ I started at ACME ten years ago and my first job was in the dynamite department, but more recently, I have been doing outside sales.”

A difficult response to edit with could be: “10 Years, and I do outside sales”

We want to capture your whole line and it reveals so much more about you. The first response gives the viewer a much broader view of who you are and your experience that you led here.

Don't Wear

eyeline direct to camera
Direct To Camera

Don't Wear

Eyeline Off Camera
Off Camera Eyeline

Eyeline

Where do I look?

To camera, or away from camera, that is the question. Depending on the nature of the video, the interviewee might ask you to look directly into the camera when addressing the questions. This is difficult for new interviewees as it feels unnatural and invasive, but can result into giving really evocative answers if you are comfortable enough with it. My advice for this would be to picture yourself beforehand on how it would look in the final video. You want to appear strong and confident, regardless of the subject matter. By trying to remove yourself (ego, insecurity) from the process, you can envision how your responses will look when the video is all edited.

This generally, can help to boost your confidence in looking down the barrel of the lens.

More often, though, the interviewer will sit in a chair directly beside the camera and ask you to direct your answers to them. This feels more natural and less invasive. I find that both methods have their places, but the off-camera eyeline is more effective for those who aren’t comfortable with interviewing. Addressing the interviewer feels more like a conversation between two people and less like a line-up at the local police precinct.

I’m not bashing direct to camera eyelines, though. I personally love them at getting a point across, but they are very difficult for someone who doesn’t have acting or previous interviewing experience.

Hair & Makeup

How should I look?

Your interviewer or the producer of the project will generally let you know ahead of time how you should arrive. For some quick interviews, they may ask you to come already made up, but for other projects, the production company will provide a makeup artist.

In the event that they don’t have a makeup artist, I suggest doing your own in a nice, natural way that doesn’t detract from the answers you are giving. If you show up on camera, and look like Mimi from the Drew Carey show, you might have gone too far. A little goes a long way, especially with how good our cameras are at capturing detail. Also, bear in mind what type of video you will be interviewing for. A professional business interview would require a different style of makeup than if you were being interviewed on the red carpet.

If the production does supply a makeup artist, it is good to arrive with your face prepared and moisturized for the makeup application.

The makeup artist will have a look in mind, and they might ask for feedback. That’s it! Let them work their magic!

At the end of the day, the only things that matter are usable responses, and if you can feel more comfortable, the resulting answers will be so much better than if you were in abject fear the whole time. Get to know your interviewer. Talk for a couple minutes, while the crew is setting up. It helps build initial trust.

Take a look at our work and see some interviews with a couple of first time interviewees!

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