In this time of new normal, “virtual” seems to be in our everyday language and learning how to do virtual interviews is crucial if you want to start or continue to be a media expert in your field. Interviewing virtually is different than in person. You don’t have another person’s body queues and realistically, if you are looking into your camera on your computer or tablet, you really aren’t looking into their eyes at all. It’s can be quite strange.

It’s important to master the techniques of the virtual interview BEFORE you actually land one. You want to be effortless and be so good that they invite you back. A virtual interview is much different than an in person interview. You have to consider all the things that the studio takes care of for you like background, camera angle, lighting, and sound.

Watch this video I did about virtual interviews on YouTube.

Here is a list of ten virtual interview tips you want to prepare for ahead of time so you can nail the interview:

1) Lighting – You want to be well-lit from the FRONT. Don’t sit in front of a window. That will make you dark as their camera will go to the light. A simple ring light is great. Find one on a tripod for multi-function. I use mine on my desk and also standing for videoing or interviews. If you don’t have a ring light, a table lamp without the lampshade makes great front lighting. As with all of this, test it out to see how you look BEFORE your interview.

2) Sound – Sound and lighting are vital to good video (i.e. your interview). If they can’t hear you clearly on the other end, it defeats the purpose of the interview. Sitting close enough to your microphone source (phone, tablet or computer) will work. Ideally you’ll want to use a microphone. Keep in mind, however, that the microphone that works on your computer or video camera, won’t work on your phone without an adapter. (I learned this the hard way.) Make sure the microphone you are using is compatible to your video source.

3) Backdrop – What’s behind you in the interview? Spend time to stage the area. If you have a bookcase, put a few books and a plant there. Be careful using picture frames as you probably don’t want your family images shared with America. If you’ve won an award, this is a great place to display it. You want a neat and tidy, organized space behind you.

4) Camera position – You always want to speak to people at eye level. Cameras are located at different places on computer, tablets, and phones so test it out and make sure you are speaking “to” people, not above or below them. Know where the camera lens is and speak into that at all times. As hard as it is and you’ll want to look at the person you are interviewing with, don’t! Always look at the camera because that means you are speaking to their audience. This is definitely something to practice as it is a somewhat difficult skill to master and takes some time to get used to doing this. Check out this blog post and see what happened when I had an interview and had to speak to my camera with only a blank screen on my computer.

5) Voice level – Even if you don’t have a microphone, you can still get good sound. But you’ll want to test it out and see what your voice sounds like without one. You don’t want to be too quiet where they can’t hear you. But you also don’t want to be yelling at your audience. Make sure they can hear you as if you are having a conversation with them.

6) Body language – Depending on if you are sitting or standing, you’ll want to concentrate on what your body is portraying to the audience. You don’t want to be too close to the camera (2-3 feet away is great). Don’t stand up against a wall. In TV they call that the “mugshot” stance. Don’t forget to smile – all the time – even if you think the cameras are turned off.

7) Hands – If you are standing, keep your hands/fingers gently crossed at your bellybutton. Hands into the camera is distracting. Remember how close you are so use your hands sparingly in a virtual interview unless you keep them inline with your body and aren’t thrusting them forward towards the camera.

8) Do your homework – Watch shows they have already done. See how your interview is going to go. Don’t be caught off-guard. By doing your homework and checking out their website and similar interviews, you’ll see what worked and what didn’t and you’ll be able to give them your A-Game.

9) Speak in soundbites – You need to be able to get your message across succinctly to the audience. Remember, a television segment is three to five minutes. You won’t be able to ramble on. You’ll need to practice and be able to get across what you want to and need to in short bursts. Watch this video I recoded about speaking in soundbites.

10) Know how you want to respond – As with the soundbites above, know what information is important to convey to the audience. Practice it over and over again so you can say what you need to during the interview, in a precise manner.

A virtual interview is much different than in person. Working on these 10 steps will help you have a seamless and quality interview and with all of these in your favor, you are very likely to be invited back.

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