Video Interview Tips From a Pro

With the explosion of social media and ever more robust web content, video interviews have become an important element in many strategic marketing plans. Below, B+L’s Videographer/Editor Andrew Kazlauskas (who is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker) offers some tips for marketers getting ready to tackle online/corporate video interview projects.


– Find a background to film the subject in front of — never place your subject right up against a wall. Also, avoid shots that make it look like a lamp or other miscellaneous object in the background is protruding from the subject’s head.

– The background you choose should directly relate to your subject. If you are shooting a surfer, try filming them in front of the ocean. If the subject is an auto mechanic, film them in their repair shop.

– Have the subject fill roughly one-third of the screen, while the background fills the other two-thirds. (Anyone who’s taken a film school class will recognize this as the “rule of thirds.”)

– The camera lens should be level with the subject’s eyes.

– The interviewer should position themself next to the camera lens, and at the same level. That way, the subject will be looking across the frame in the direction of the empty 2/3 of the frame (where the off-camera interviewer is.)

– Don’t backlight the interview. This will result in your subject being silhouetted with little detail or the background being washed out and overexposed.

– Avoid noisy surroundings to help capture the best audio. Be careful of refrigerators, loud computers, fans, florescent lights, ticking clocks, air conditioners, outside sounds, clicking heaters etc.

– Avoid having the subject sit on a rocking or swivel chair. Given the opportunity, they will inevitably rock or sway back and forth, which is extremely distracting to the viewer.


– Make sure the subject is comfortable. Have water to offer them.

– Be sure to make eye contact with the interviewee and act and look interested in what they are talking about. This will ease the subject’s nervousness and make it easier for them to speak on tape.

– Questions should be open-ended and help provoke detailed responses. Avoid “yes-or-no” questions. Try using phrases such as “Can you describe”…”Tell me about”…”Explain why”…”How do you feel?”

– Obviously, subjects should know the topic of interview, but how much you want to brief them and/or have them rehearse answers can vary depending on the type of video you are trying to create and other factors. Coming from a journalism background, I prefer to limit that information, in an effort to get more authentic and unscripted answers. (Look for a point/counterpoint discussion of this with B+L’s PR Director Andy Larsen and myself in the next issue of this e-newsletter.)

– Never get tied down to the questions you came into the interview with. Be a good listener and try to build questions based on the subject’s responses. Don’t be afraid to dive into a relevant topic that you weren’t aware of prior to the interview. (This will also be explored further in the next issue.)

– At the end of every interview, ask your subject “Is there any question I missed, or something else that you would like to talk about?” This last question often prompts new and interesting information.

– Finally, remember you can never shoot too much footage!

ABOUT ANDREW KAZLAUSKAS: A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s journalism program, Andrew has a wealth of experience both inside and outside the agency business. In 2007, he directed “Chosen Towns,” a PBS documentary about the history of Jews in Wisconsin. In 2008, he won the Best Documentary Feature award at the Illinois International Film Festival for his film “Jack Be Nimble.” While at Boelter + Lincoln, he’s worked for clients such as the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, Wisconsin Dells VCB, Ministry Healthcare, WEAC and Mueller Sports, helping shoot and edit TV spots, online video projects and corporate events. His editorial footage (b-roll) has been used by ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS affiliates throughout the Midwest and on networks including the Travel Channel and the Weather Channel.