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5 Common Mistakes of the Video Interview

This article was written by Ben Craig, senior video production strategist at Columbia College. 

With the abundance of video on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter, it is increasingly tough to get your message out. Whether it's for your school, a non-profit organization or a company's YouTube channel, there are some general rules that you should always follow before you even press record when conducting a video interview. 

  1. Lighting: You may not have access to professional lighting for your subject, but you still need to be mindful of where the light is coming from. Lights in large rooms and offices typically come from overhead and can create harsh and unflattering shadows. If ceiling lights are your only option, you may need to move your subject forward or backward so the light isn't hitting their faces directly. If you do have access to lighting equipment, do your best to turn off the existing light and follow the principles of three-point lighting.
  2. Composition and Eyelines: Always be mindful of where your subjects' eyes are located in the frame and where they are looking during the interview. It's best to obey the rule of thirds when positioning the eyes, which will help out with your headroom as mentioned below. If the subject is being interviewed and not speaking directly to the camera, make sure that their eyes are looking to the opposite side of where they are placed in the frame (left side looking right, right side looking left). Place the interviewer close to the camera, so the subject's eyes aren't looking too far off from the camera.
  3. Headroom: This is a common mistake in many types of video production. Unintentionally leaving too much or too little space between the subject and the top of the frame leads to undesirable results. 
  4. Backgrounds: Be careful of what's in the background of your subject. Things such as big bulky chairs, picture frames, windows with a lot of sunshine and other people moving around are typically things you want to avoid. If you can't remove distracting objects, move your subject farther away from them to create a better sense of depth in the image. 
  5. Seating: Many times you'll see an interview on TV where the person seems to be swallowed by furniture. This is a huge distraction to the viewer. This kind of set-up can also make the subject become too relaxed and slouch in their chair. If space allows, place your subject in the middle of the room and seat them in a flat-back chair or stool.

These are just a few of the many things you need to think about when conducting a video interview. There are always instances where you can go against the grain and break the rules, but it's best to know them before you do. 

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