While it may seem that the hardest part of securing an interview is garnering the media’s attention, it is easy for an interview to go awry if you, or your client, are not prepared. To ensure that you ace your next interview, read our five simple tips below.
- Think before you speak. It’s perfectly fine – good even – to pause and collect your thoughts before answering a question. If you do not understand a question, ask the interviewer to rephrase it. Most importantly, if you are not sure how to respond, and it’s a phone interview for a future written piece, tell the interviewer you will get back to them with more information. This will give you time to thoughtfully construct an answer that is accurate and on-brand. If you’re on the spot and it’s a broadcast interview, a simple, “I can’t speak to that…” or “I’m not the expert on that, but here’s what I can tell you…” does the trick. As Mark Twain once said, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
- Be mindful of your body language. According to psychologist Albert Mehrabian, body language accounts for 55% of how others see us, while spoken words account for 7% and tone of voice accounts for 38%. If you nod while explaining that something is inaccurate, your words are saying no, but your body is saying yes. This is not a good look! Furthermore, you should always maintain eye contact during your interview and avoid fidgeting, shaking your leg, or tapping your fingers, as this may make you seem disinterested.
- Do your research. Before you do an interview, get to know the outlet or person that you will be speaking with. Read the newspaper, magazine or business journal. Listen to the radio show or podcast. Watch the television segment. Not only will this give you a feel for questions that may be asked, but it will also help you understand the audience you will be reaching. Unless you are being interviewed by an industry-specific publication, you should avoid using professional or technical jargon.
- Be a bridger. Before your interview, think about your goals and identify key messages. What do you want readers/listeners/viewers to know? During your interview, be ready to bridge back to these messages in order to keep the interview on track. Statements like “That’s a great question, but what’s really important here is…”, “I am not sure about X, but I do know…”, or “Now that we’ve covered X, let’s discuss…” make this possible. This technique will help to position you as an industry expert and avoid rambling, off-topic responses.
- Consider your background. While you may be eager to “wow” audiences with your cutting-edge style, it is critical that you wear something that you are comfortable and confident in. The audience will know if you’re uncomfortable – trust us! You should also opt for plain, solid colors as opposed to patterns, which are easily distorted on-screen; experts also recommend avoiding deep blacks and bright whites as these tones frequently cause lighting problems. Furthermore, if you’re headed to a TV studio, don’t wear green; there may be a green screen onsite, in which case you’d be floating on-air!
For remote interviews, lighting is critical, but a quiet space, a professional background and a clean camera lens are just as important. Check to make sure your computer is at eye level, even if you need to put items underneath it to get it to the correct height. Also remember, if you’re completing an interview on your laptop or phone, to silence notifications. Finally, whether it is a broadcast interview, podcast recording or simply a chat over the phone, avoid wearing excessive jewelry, especially pieces that may jangle noisily and disrupt the audio!
If you follow these five tips, you will be prepared for your next interview. Not sure how to secure an interview, or want more advice, see if our team can help at Impact PR & Communications.