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On-Camera Interviews: Tips, Tricks and COVID Safety

In my 10 years of experience in the video production industry, I have done hundreds of interviews. Here are a few big things I see people surprised by, along with a few key tips and pointers for preparation. Let’s start with the surprises!

Interview Surprise #1

Interviewees are often surprised by having to repeat an answer several times. We will ask an interviewee to do an answer over again for many reasons. It is possible there was audio interference or the audio technician caught a stumble in the answer and wanted to get a cleaner take. Also, there are times where even if you nail it perfectly we may look to get an alternate take anyways, just so we have options. Don’t be discouraged by having to repeat an answer, it is a part of the process and we are just trying to do everything we can to make you look and sound good!

Interview Surprise #2

Another thing about these shoots I often see surprise people is the amount of time it may take to set up an interview. One of my favorite things to say to an interviewee is “These shoots are two hours of setup, for one hour of filming, for about five minutes of video.” This mostly holds true with our shoots – most times we spend twice as much time setting up as filming. That is just part of the process, before you sit down to be interviewed we want to make sure everything is perfect. If you are anxious to get it done and over with, which is a common thing we see, just remember that our main goal is to make everything just right so that the end product looks as good as possible. So please be patient and let the camera people make everything just right! I feel like it is worse to sit down and be ready to start talking, only to have the crew make 20 more minutes of adjustments.

Interview Surprise #3

This is a small one, but sometimes it does surprise people. If you have taken the time to prepare answers and have a good amount of notes you will not be able to hold them in your hands as you are interviewed. Our microphones are very close to you and will always pick up the sound of the paper either against your skin or even just moving around. We can keep your notes close by, but you won’t be able to hold onto them. If you are preparing for an interview it is better for your answer to flow from your mind as you form it, rather than trying to memorize a prepared answer. So when taking notes on answers, I recommend not writing out an answer in full and trying to recite it. It will actually make you sound less genuine and more robotic. I always tell people to leave bullet points for the key parts of your answer and try to naturally get to all of those bullet points as you speak. I know that is much more difficult than just reciting a prepared statement, but it almost always feels more real. 


Our main goal on our recent shoots is very similar to what it has always been – we want you to be as comfortable as possible. So, there are some updates we have made to our shoot procedures and some new things to mention.

Mask or No Mask on Camera

It is likely that for the purpose of your end video your team may or may not want you to wear a mask during your interview. It is up to you, but this should be decided beforehand and be sure to let the video crew know as we may want to capture audio a bit differently. But know that regardless of the decision to wear a mask on camera or not, our team will be in masks and PPE the whole time.

Crew Sizes

We are keeping our on site crew limited to as few people as possible for your safety and ours. If your company or the filming location has specific policies in place for number of people, we can work within those as well and be sure everyone is comfortable. 

No Physical Contact

To make sure we practice safe social distancing, there may be times in which we guide you through the process of something we might have previously done, like putting a lavalier microphone on yourself. If you are reading this and that makes you nervous, I promise you, it is nothing to worry about! We aren’t judging you for your mic skills and our microphones are good enough that if you get it close, everything will be just fine. 

Set Sanatization

The only other thing to keep in mind regarding the new safety procedures is that after we have staged the area or if one of our grips has been sitting in your chair to help frame the shot up, we will always sanitize the entire area before asking you to step in. We have a full clean kit with us on set filled with everything we need. So, no need to worry about germs!

Final Thoughts and Quick Tips

To wrap it up, I want to throw a few final tips on here:

  • Always brush your teeth before an interview!
  • Have a lint roller handy (At PEG we keep one in our kit at all times, but if you are working with someone else, you will want to make sure you are hair and fuzz free!)
  • I always check our interviewees for makeup problems and have them smile to see if there is anything in their teeth. If you are being interviewed and are worried about that, ask someone to come check for you, or try to remember to check yourself.
  • Remove anything from your pockets before being interviewed. The outline of a phone is very recognizable. Also, any random lumps in your pockets may be distracting or just not look good in the final video.
  • Silence your cell phone! It would be the worst if you were giving the best answer you have ever given and you got a notification.
  • Unless you are told otherwise, speak to the interviewer in the same way you would a friend in a conversation. By that I mean if you talk with your hands, or often use gestures in speaking to someone you should do that during the interview as well. If that is how you are most comfortable, we want you to be as comfortable and natural as possible on camera.
  • Dress to impress!
  • Remove any jewelry that might “jingle.” We have had bracelets and necklaces make quite a bit of noise during answers and cause retakes.

I hope this was informative for you. Go out there and crush your next interview!  


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