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Get Better On Camera Interviews

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

For a lot of interviewees, the thought of an on camera interview is a butt clenching and sweat inducing experience… but it really shouldn’t be that way, and you as the interviewer hold the key.

I‘ve conducted more than my fair share of on camera interviews. I’ve worked with the easy to interview, the not so easy and the complete pain in the arse types. Regardless of who I’m sitting opposite to, I have only one priority, and that’s to get the best interview possible.

So, how should you approach an interview and what are some of the lessons and rules you should employ to get the best out of the person who’s reluctantly in front of the camera?

Incubate video crew, Charles Meadows (dir) and Poppy Modisane (dp) on location

So here are my 5 best tips for getting better interviews.

  1. Be researched and be prepared. Know who you’re interviewing, have some background on them, their company, cause, life etc.

  2. If you’re part of the camera crew and wearing interviewers hat then know where your crew responsibilities end and your interviewer one begins. Confused roles do not put your interviewee at ease.

  3. Treat your interviewee kindly and with patience. Do not be a charmer or an ass kisser! Be authentic and honest. If your interviewee doubts your authenticity then they’re going to be cagey and impersonal.

  4. If an interview is not going well, don’t be afraid to suggest a bathroom or coffee break. Try to take the pressure off the interviewee. Sometimes stopping the speed wobble by getting off the bike is all you need. Sometimes I find reiterating the importance of the interview and who its going to help (literally asking them to imagine who they’re really talking to) can have a positive impact.

  5. It’s a conversation!! The more you frame and conduct your interview as a conversation, the better it’s going to be. Without doubt I get the great responses from the extra questions I throw in on top of the scripted ones. The moment the interviewee thinks they’re just doing a checklist interview is the moment you’ve got to re-double your efforts to turn it back into a conversation.

A good interview brings out the hidden chemistry, the spark, the human magic of communication. It’s subtle, a subconscious thing that we recognise through body language and other small mannerisms. Most importantly it elevates the production value and improves audience engagement.

Charles Meadows is a documentary filmmaker / director at the Incubate Video Agency based in South Africa. He has travelled most of the African continent working on corporate, non-profit and broadcast projects for global clients.


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