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Great Lighting isn't Just for Movies, it's for Video Interviews Too

Cailyn Cox

K D/Flickr - You may not need a rig like this, but nailing your interview lighting will give you the best chance. K D/Flickr - You may not need a rig like this, but nailing your interview lighting will give you the best chance.

As online interviews become more common, interviewees need to learn how to best represent themselves in a Google Hangout, Skype or Facetime interview.

The way you present yourself and your background greatly affects the overall tone and quality of the interview. It is important to learn the theory behind various lighting techniques in order to find the right look for your interview.

Poor lighting in any video will simply give poor results; good lighting doesn’t occur by accident, which makes it important to study different techniques in order to produce a result that will make the interview presentable.

There are several factors to consider when figuring out what you want your final image to look like. The factors affecting the final image include the direction, intensity, color and quality of your light sources.

Light Direction

Side lighting will bring out texture in the subject’s face, thereby adding to their character. In a film, this technique might be used to create a feeling that the character feels conflicted about, so be careful when using it in an interview.

Backlighting can reveal the form of a subject and when used to the extreme, it can be used to silhouette the individual. When used in a less dramatic fashion, a small backlight can be used to create a halo around the subject, thereby separating them from the background.

Front lighting can help hide imperfections in a subject’s facial features. It is also called glamour lighting and is the least dramatic lighting.

Light Quality: Hard vs Soft Light

Using a larger light will create softer-edged shadows than utilizing a small/point light source;this could end up making you look better on the screen. You can also use a soft-box or a diffuser to transform a small light source into a larger light source.

Light Colour

Generally, colored lights are employed on the background rather than the subject in order to create a desired mood. Naturalistic lighting can give more realistic results, and will not distract the interviewer from the subject at hand, which is you.

Make sure that your background is not too busy, but keep it interesting: something like a bookshelf would work well as opposed to a plain white wall.

Light Intensity: High Key vs Low Key

A high key lighting setup will tend to project an upbeat and happier subject to the interviewer. A low key setup will promote a more serious, and perhaps moodier, atmosphere for your interview.

Bridgette Rehg/Flickr Bridgette Rehg/Flickr


Typically the best lights for an online interview would be a soft light, then a second controllable light for the background. A third, slightly weaker light may also be used as well to act as filler lighting.

If you want to have more control over your lighting then you should consider a soft box. A soft box will help to control spill and offers a range of accessory options for a relatively affordable price.

The background light should be stronger and more directional to give your profile focus and edge. You can arrange the lights depending on your needs; try to pick a background/location that has relevance to your field, is devoid of noisy distractions and makes it simple to control the lighting.

Some Final Thoughts

It is important to remember when filming that you should light your video interview shot-by-shot. Do not forget that when you change the angles of the camera to make certain that you do the same with the lighting.

Test all equipment at least an hour before beginning an interview and consider conducting a mock interview beforehand with a friend or family member to ensure that you are satisfied with the lighting and the quality of your video.

If you are a candidate for the job interview then make sure that you maintain eye contact with the interviewer by looking directly into the camera. Make certain that you have good posture, dress professionally and speak in a normal conversational voice.

It is amazing the effect that great lighting can have on an individual in an online interview. If you consider the previous points, you can drastically change the quality and sense of professionalism of your video interviews.

Cailyn Cox

Cailyn Cox is a freelance writer who is attempting to conquer the literary world one step at a time. We live in a hi-tech era, so it pays to know something about it, literally! L&T has helped her to become brand aware and write compelling and engaging social content.