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5 MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN BEING INTERVIEWED [top tips for on-camera interviews]

Learn about the 5 most common mistakes people make when being interviewed and follow our tips for on-camera interview confidence.

Speaking on camera can be a challenging skill to master; even the most seasoned of professionals aren't immune to the dreaded jitters before the countdown to action. We've put our years of experience to good use by putting together five simple steps to help you feel more confident and better equipped to present yourself on camera.

So, without further ado, um, here's our, er, Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Being Interviewed (and What To Do To Fix It).

1. So

For some strange reason, humans have collectively decided that when asked a question on camera, our response has to begin with "So…" Subconsciously or deliberately, this is a phenomenon I've seen spreading rapidly when filming interviews and talking head videos. 

We don't do it during conversations off-camera with friends and family, but now I find myself constantly having to politely stop, restart and remind filming subjects not to begin with such verbal punctuation. It sounds repetitively jarring, and the editor will not thank you when reviewing your interview rushes. 

The best way to avoid this trait is to start your answer by restating the question, which also gives you additional thinking time:

"My favourite aspect of working with x is…"

"My top tip for success in my industry is y…"

"I got started in business by z…"

You will sound more assured overall, and the editor will be eternally grateful you've prefaced your response with context. This also makes perfect quotes for isolation and bite-sized social media distribution. 

2. Ums and Ers

When you're being interviewed for video or audio recording, it's tempting to feel you must constantly be making noise. The fear of silence causes people to fill legitimate thinking time with aural punctuation actively. Umm, err or other onomatopoeic sounds that string individual thoughts together without pause. 

The truth is that far from making you sound good, it betrays a need for more confidence in the speaker. There's far greater assurance displayed by stopping. Taking the time to consider your next utterance. Speaking in deliberate sentences. Using the power of silence to give your thoughts more… weight. 

Editors also love this. Being able to cut, redistribute and manoeuvre between your answers quickly gives them more scope to use you effectively throughout the final piece. Or, once again, clip your responses for short social media edits and reels. All of this means more eyes and ears on you across more platforms, maximising your promotional opportunity.

3. Fidgeting

Perhaps the most significant way our bodies can expose our lack of confidence is through fidgeting. Whether spinning on a chair, rocking a bouncy leg or constantly shifting stance, that nervous energy is transmitted straight down the camera and into the audience's perception of us.

The camera operator may also not thank you for these movements, as it may upset the deliberate framing they set up to present you in the most flattering way possible. Filming and photography composition are games of acceptable margins, and moving your body a couple of centimetres can look like kilometres on camera. 


These physical expressions of unease are perfectly natural but can be soothed and lessened with practice. It feels like a cliche to recommend concentrating on breathing in these situations, but only because it is accurate and works. Breathing fully and deeply from our diaphragms is a lost art within our relentless, non-stop society. 

Taking a few moments to slow ourselves down, appreciate the gentle filling of our bodies with air, and then the relaxing sensation of exhalation is a forgotten superpower we possess. 

Composing yourself in such a way between recording takes and while you process the questions being asked will vastly improve your performance and on-screen persona. It will focus your mind and help you control your bodily movements, even making you comfortable enough to gesticulate, talk with your hands and energise positive physical expression. 

4. Not breathing

The opposite impact of not breathing enough is a guaranteed route to look bad on camera. Not through literal asphyxiation but rather appearing as a rambling maniac. The combination of desperation to come across as fully informed with endless insights and even to end the interview experience as quickly as possible leads people to talk at increasingly incoherent lengths. 

Stringing together run-on sentences without a pause for thought or oxygen only produces diminishing returns in your performance. The value in your message, however valid, will be lost if they're delivered with all the energy of a rapidly deflating balloon. Your tone of voice suffers, your cheeks flush, and your eyes bulge as you ceaselessly try to push out more and more words. 

Just stopping is far better for yourself, your audience, and those shooting the video - as with eliminating verbal punctuation. 

Breathe after each complete thought. 

Stop and think before expressing the next. 

Don't allow your brain and tongue to get out of sync. It's also more accessible to correct yourself or rephrase for greater clarity or qualification of details.

Rushing to shorten the filming process by quickly talking will only lengthen the ordeal. Those behind the camera will ask you to repeat yourself at a more intelligible, considered rate with clear separation of your bon mots and essential points. 

You're being interviewed so viewers can learn from and connect with you, so give them the time to do so meaningfully.

5. Inconsistent Eye-line

Eye contact is a shortcut to creating a connection with someone. It promotes confidence, trust and emotional vulnerability, all of which make for a more personal interaction, even when talking on camera, where you direct your gaze matters. 

The persons directing your shoot should specify where they want you to look from the start. Either straight down the camera lens to simulate direct eye contact with the viewer or off-camera with the interviewer. What is vital is maintaining that look throughout the interview.

As with fidgeting, the slightest alteration in your glance is magnified tenfold on screen.

If your eyes flit in various directions while talking, it will only distract and confuse your audience. 'Are they talking to me? Is there someone behind me? Is something more interesting happening off-camera?'

If you're using a teleprompter system to enable the reading of pre-prepared statements, be aware of whether your eyes are scanning the text. Professionals who regularly read from autocues ensure the scrolling speed and font size used are perfect for them, so the act of reading is invisible to the viewer.

This is also not to say you should not blink because you certainly must not stare unnervingly, but also be aware of excessive blinking if you start to feel under too much pressure. You've likely never given so much thought to what your eyeballs are doing, yet awareness of something as small as this can make a massive difference to how to come across on camera.

What all of these tips for on-camera interview are designed to do is help create a feeling of confidence in yourself that will radiate to your audience. They are beneficial for any public speaking engagement, yet the presence of recording equipment can do strange things to otherwise composed people. 

Always remember you've been invited to the interview because your expertise, knowledge and experiences are valuable to others. Mistakes can always be edited out, and your best soundbites and pearls of wisdom can be enjoyed over and over again by a global audience.

Oh, and don't forget to smile! 😁



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