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July 21, 2014

5 Tips to Make Your Interview-Style Videos More Engaging

Do you know how to shoot the perfect interview video?It seems like video interviews are everywhere these days. From the classic customer testimonial to the “About Us,” many companies find Q&A style interviews to be a great source of fast and inexpensive video content – and they are, but there are some definite pitfalls that can make the difference between engaging your audience and putting them to sleep.

Luckily, there are some tried and true tricks to make your interview-style video a success.

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1. Interview the right people

intervieweesWho you choose to interview is an important part of your strategy. While many marketers have the impulse to focus on the higher-ups (like the CEO or Board President), or to default to whoever is most easily scheduled, there are more strategic ways to choose whom to put on camera.

One method is to try asking, “Who do I want the viewer to relate to?” Ultimately, the power of video is that it helps the viewer connect with the person they see onscreen. With the right person on camera, you can leverage that connection.

If you’re making a recruiting video, for example, you may want the audience to relate to potential coworkers, so they can already feel like a part of the team. If the viewer is a potential client, you may want them to relate to your current clients, who already love and benefit from your product.

2. Avoid Q&A

One of the biggest pitfalls of an interview is the question and answer format. People have a natural tendency to answer questions in a certain way. They often lead their answers with uncertainty, saying thinks like “I guess it would be…” or “I’d have to say…” Some directors will then remind the subject to “answer in complete sentences,” which usually doesn’t change the response, but causes the interviewee to interrupt their own answer with an apology for not using a complete sentence.

Instead, try avoiding questions altogether. Treat the interview as a conversation with questions like, “Tell me about your experience with Company X” or, “Describe the culture here.” You’ll find that when prompted like this interviewees naturally answer in complete sentences, and they’re often more enthusiastic and natural with their responses.

have a conversation

3. Choose the Best Setting

location locationHollywood filmmakers know that setting is important to their audience. That’s why James Bond fights the bad guys in Istanbul and Beijing instead of Baltimore and Cleveland.

Your office probably isn’t as exotic as a movie location, but it does say a lot about you. Audiences may not remember the background, but they will remember the impression it gave them. Bookshelves can make an interviewee look educated; computers can make them seem tech-savvy.

Of course, there are some very good reasons for not shooting at your own location. Maybe it’s very loud. Maybe it’s too small. In those cases, consider using a rented space with an interesting look, such as brick walls, or one where you can set up some background furnishings. Greenscreen can also be a good option. You’d be surprised how many videos that appear to be set in an office or conference room were actually shot on greenscreen.

Whatever setting you choose, use it to make a specific impression in the viewer’s mind.

4. Use B-Roll

B-roll, for those unfamiliar with the term, is footage you can cut away to while someone speaks. Without b-roll, we’d be stuck watching minute after minute of a person sitting and talking. With b-roll, the speaker’s points can be reinforced with related imagery.

B-roll is incredibly important in interview videos. Not only does it keep things interesting, but it gives allows you to edit the interview without creating jumps. If your speaker trails off or uses a lot of filler words (those infamous “ums” and “uhs”), you’ll be especially thankful for b-roll in the editing process.

The best b-roll relates to what’s being said. For instance, if someone says “This is a really friendly company,” you can show some of your employees smiling and talking.

A great rule of thumb is to schedule as much time for getting b-roll footage as you do for getting interviews. During that time, the cameraman should try to capture as much footage as possible, showing anything from people working together to your company’s letterhead lying on a desk.

5. Tell a Story

stories workThe difference between an average video and a truly memorable one is story. Look at television commercials. There’s a reason they tell stories. A little boy refuses to eat his cereal, then discovers it’s delicious. You now remember that the cereal is tasty. If the video was just a boy eating his cereal happily, would you remember the message as clearly?

Interview videos are unscripted, but just as capable of telling stories. Non-profit helps the community. Supplier solves a retailer’s problems.

One good trick is to prompt interviewees to answer some of the questions with stories. A question like “tell me about a time when the team went above and beyond” can generate great responses that you can use to structure the entire video.

Overall, try out these tips for your next video and reach out to us on twitter with a link to interview videos you think serve as great examples of these methods. Have you made a successful interview video? Here’s your chance to show it off!

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Kellye Blosser

Kellye Blosser

Kellye Blosser is a writer, producer, and digital strategist with an agency in in Chicago, IL. A graduate of Ohio University, she spent five years producing corporate video at Chicago's Plum Productions, and most recently has become a Digital Strategist at Sandstorm Design.

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