I just finished reading a riveting suspense book called Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. One of the characters has to be prepped for a media interview. The section resonated with me because of all of the media interviews I had to give as a spokesperson. In my current role, I do the same, just not as frequently, so I thought I’d brush up some on how to give a successful interview.
Practice: Don’t think you can meet with a reporter (either print or video/digital) and expect to easily answer questions and succeed in the interview. In advance, develop a list of questions you expect will be asked. Then find someone to ask those questions of you and answer them out loud. That way you can determine how far off the mark you are and what you might not have an answer to. Don’t over practice, though, as you don’t want to come across as too polished.
Answer the question and stop: A common mistake is for an interviewee to keep speaking to fill silence or gaps. Answer the question the reporter asked and then stop. If there is silence, don’t fill it. The reporter will quickly ask another question, especially if it’s for television, because the reporter won’t want silence. If you keep talking, you are likely to say more than you had planned to share.
Be truthful: If the topic is difficult, you need to answer honestly. If you don’t, the reporter – and subsequently the audience – will know it. You will continue to be hounded until the truth comes out. If you don’t want to talk about a situation, then don’t agree to the interview. But be aware that a reporter will find someone else to discuss it, and that person’s version may be even less flattering.
The character in Gone Girl prepped for the interviews and did well. If you follow these tips, you will, too.