Interview Lessons From Media Professionals


These days, because of video interviews and multiple forms of media, we have a lot more opportunities to share opinions, increase awareness about our brand, and even get jobs.  Many thanks to Youtube! However, this same medium has the power to keep your greatest gaffes alive when you would rather bury them. Vlog interviews and media chats go viral effortlessly and can make or mar the reputation of a brand.

In the last year or so, we have viewed a fair share of bad interviews like:

  • Billionaire octogenarian, Donald Sterling’s infamous sit-down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper where he showed us ‘Bad to Worse’.
  • Cliven Bundy’s interviews with the New York Times in April where he proceeded to call African-Americans Negros, reminisce about slavery and added that African-Americans might have been ‘better off as slaves.’

So what makes the difference between a successful media interview and one that makes you want to turn back time?

Being an extrovert doesn’t equal a great interview

It’s a common misconception that extroverts, dignitaries, or celebrities automatically make the best interviewees. Yes, in a room, at a party or large function you might be able to talk a mile a minute with your smile in place and a charming aura that keeps everyone hanging on your every word yet all these virtues are not enough to guarantee a great press interview. In fact, these same attributes may not transfer to the camera well.

Prep and rehearse until it becomes natural 

Setting time aside to prepare for a press interview might seem like overkill but considering how badly things can go, it is definitely worth a try. I would suggest that you make a video of yourself answering possible questions and watch it see anything you might need to work upon. Do you have a very expressive face? Do you move your arms too much? Are you making funny noises with your mouth after each sentence? Biting your lips or starting each brilliant response with “ermmm”?

Have a clear message 

What is your message? What do you want to be imprinted upon your audience from the interview? The name of your company, your policies, and objectives, your position on certain pressing issues, the fact that your business is a top sponsor of a major event? Decide on what your message will be and work on making sure your message is received. In case sure to draw attention back to your message before the interview ends

Ask for questions (nicely) or talking points, before an interview

Some interviewers may send you a list of questions to help you get acquainted prior to the day while others will not. Ask for such a list if your interviewer shows no signs of sending anything. This way you can clarify “off-limits” subjects and get more time to articulate your message.

Be friendly with your interviewer

Henry Ogunjimi, a journalist, believes that some newbies and not-so-new interviewers can get flustered when interviewing influential people. Break the ice if you suspect that your interviewer seems intimidated. Remember to wear a smile, maintain good posture, and act natural.

Be natural, yet straight to the point as possible. 

Don’t overdo things. Most of us tend to ramble when under the spotlight. There’s nothing wrong with been witty but only if it is appropriate. It is hardly appropriate if the purpose of your interview is damage control for a service or if the nation is in mourning. This is why it’s best to keep answers simple. Clear and simple. Keep those two words in mind as you prepare for your interview.

Good luck!

What interview do you think is the worst you have ever watched and why? Please include in the comments section.


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