While many in-person events have been postponed or canceled, remote interviews can still take place thanks to advances in technology. In a recent CNBC Make It article, Jo Cresswell, Community Manager at Glassdoor, stated, “Companies are turning to technology to maintain business continuity during this time of uncertainty.”
So how do you master a virtual interview with your at-home setup and technology? Watch our video and read 3 tips to guide you through the setup, recording, editing, and producing of your remote interview based on our own experiences and trial and error.
Your phone is probably your best camera and microphone
Video conferencing services have become increasingly popular, and many of them offer recording options. However, when your laptop was created, the camera lens and microphone probably weren’t top priorities. They also sometimes don’t record directly to your laptop and instead record to the cloud, creating the jerky, compressed video we’re commonly seeing.
Smartphones, on the other hand, can take amazing photos and videos, often making it a preferred tool for creators. Some smartphones have multiple lenses, designed to get the best color and light possible. On top of that, there’s not a huge learning curve as recording a video on a smartphone is a familiar feature
So whether you’re recording yourself, or interviewing someone, default to using a smartphone. You can even set a laptop up behind a propped-up phone so someone on a video chat application can conduct the interview.
Don’t look like an anonymous informant
Video conferences offer a great way to compare and contrast what looks good. Next time you’re on one, look around. See who has made themselves look flattering and who doesn’t (but don’t tell them). One thing you’ll notice is how big a difference light can make.
If you’ve ever seen a professional video shoot, the brightest lights are usually shining on the face, just off to the side. Find a spot for your interview that offers something similar. This might be facing a window, or if that’s not possible, even facing toward the lighting in your location. Just having your face lit a little bit goes a long way to making a flattering video.
Look like a human, not a pixie or a giant
When we use our laptop to video conference, it’s usually on a desk. So the camera looks up at us, and not always in the most flattering way.
But when we have an in-person conversation, our heads and eyes are usually at the same height. That’s the environment you want to recreate in your remote video interviews. So the goal is to position the camera around eye-height to the subject.
To do that, you first need a way to support the smartphone. Resist the urge to simply lean it on something. You want something that can keep the phone horizontally level and be adjusted without falling over every time you touch it. Ideally this is a cheap smartphone tripod, easily purchased online. But in a pinch, there are other creative solutions, including clips, a paper cup, an adjustable wrench, or even Lego bricks.
Once your phone is secure, use books or boxes to elevate it to eye height. The subject should only be a foot or 2 away from the phone, framed so the top of their head is just below the top of the screen and the bottom of the screen is about where a second button would be on a shirt.
Additional helpful tips
- Use a landscape view unless you have a specific vertical-friendly use.
- Even if you’re recording your own interview, consider asking someone to help on a laptop video chat. Ideally, this would be a video producer who has experience with the technique, but if not, it still helps to have someone on the other end to look at the phone’s framing, make sure it’s recording, and offer a friendly face to look at. They can also help you keep up the energy level throughout the recording and prompt you with questions, instead of you simply glancing back and forth at your notes.
- Don’t wear the same color shirt as your background.
- Be aware of noises and repeat something if a noise interrupts you.
- Consider having a professional editor involved in the final product.
- If you aren’t wearing pants, stop recording before standing up.
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