How to be interviewed

Being interviewed can be nerve-wracking. Job interviews are not always pleasant. Police interviews even are even worse..

Add in a camera, a boom microphone in a big, furry sock hanging overhead and a busy production team, and you’ve got some people’s idea of hell.

But being the subject of an on-camera interview can be a really positive experience. The Pearldrop team has spent years figuring out how to get the best out of people in on-camera interviews. We’ve come up with a set of tips that work equally well with on-camera interviews or any other kind of interview, and we’d like to share them with you here.

Remember why you’re being interviewed. In most situations, you’re there for a positive reason. If Pearldrop is interviewing you, it’s because we’re interested in what you’ve got to say. You’re almost certainly an expert in your subject, even if you don’t think you are. Take the time to think about what you’re talking about, and make sure you share your love and enthusiasm with the interviewer.

Don’t correct yourself straight away. If you make a mistake, just carry on with your sentence. You can always ask our Pearldrop interviewer for another go at the answer. But if you stop halfway through a sentence, it can make the editor’s job much harder. Just press on! The production team will thank you for it. (And probably don’t say, “Cut!”. It’s the director’s job to say that. It can sometimes lead to confusion if someone else says it, because the crew might want to respect the interviewee’s wishes, but the director might see something that he wants to let develop).

Avoid saying some stock phrases:

“So…” at the beginning of a sentence is overused, especially in the business world. Don’t say, “So, my name’s John, and I work in sales”. An added bonus is that it will make the editor’s job easier later on (this being a common theme among the tips here).

Don’t say, “Like I said before,” or, “Like I just said”. If the interviewer asks you a question that sounds a bit similar to something you’ve already discussed, either on-camera or before the interview, it’s probably because he or is she is looking for a different way of answering the question, or perhaps knows that there was a problem with background noise last time. Remember that not everything you say is going to appear in the final cut of the film. We might only use the second version of your answer, so if you say, “Like I said before”, it might not make any sense in the film, because you won’t have said it before as far as the audience is concerned. So we’ll have to cut that bit of your answer.

Try to speak in short, clear sentences. Like with good writing, good speaking avoids long sentences with multiple subclauses. Keeping your sentences short helps your audience to follow what you’re saying. And it helps you to make sure you’re not messing up your tenses and sentence structure.

Don’t spin on your swivel chair. If you’re sitting on an office chair that revolves, don’t be tempted to spin from side to side while you’re answering questions. It tends to make the audience (and the camera operator) feel sea-sick and is likely to result in you being asked to do the answer again.

Keep eye-contact with the interviewer. It’s perfectly acceptable to look away while you’re thinking about your answer. But always return to making eye-contact with your interviewer. He or she is trained to offer you reassuring nods and little smiles while you’re speaking, which will help you to speak with more confidence. As a viewer, it can be very distracting when the interviewee’s gaze is all over the frame.

Don’t be overly concerned with “errs” and “ums”. Wherever possible, we’ll edit them out later. But if you can reduce them in your everyday speech, you’ll sound much more authoritative.

Speak with conviction. Remember that you’re being interviewed about something you know about. Have confidence in your knowledge.

And remember that an interview is really just a conversation between two interested parties. One party wants to know something that the other party already knows. That’s as complicated as it comes. Be part of the conversation: smile, laugh, be natural. If you feel yourself getting nervous, try to regulate your breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth. Slow and steady.

Don’t forget that our entire production team is on-location for one purpose only: to give you the very best opportunity to communicate your message. We’ll do everything we can to make it easy for you. We’ll light you beautifully. We’ll use flattering camera angles. We’ll make sure your hair and your clothing are looking their best. We’ll check your teeth for spinach before the interview starts. And in the edit, we’ll always make you look professional and knowledgeable about your subject.

We hope that your next interview with the Pearldrop team is a really positive experience!

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