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The Art of Mastering the Interview

  • MicrophoneDon’t agree to an on-the-spot interview. If a reporter calls, ask them if you can call them back later so you can gather your thoughts. Be sure to ask when the reporter’s deadline is.
  • Before you agree to a media interview, it is critical that you know who is contacting you and the nature of the media outlet. If you are unfamiliar with the outlet, ask for details.
  • Know the key points you would like to make in your interview and work these into the responses to the questions you are asked. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so.
  • Prepare answers for the most difficult questions you think might be asked.
  • Avoid being defensive when asked a difficult question. If you are asked a question that you do not want to answer, don’t say, “no comment”.
  • Don’t assume the reporter knows what you’re talking about. Reporters often cover stories because of their availability and proximity to the event rather than their expertise. Take the time to make sure they understand what you’re saying.
  • Be concise. Use simple and descriptive words that leave no doubt as to what you mean.
  • Make sure whatever information you provide in an interview is absolutely accurate.
  • Don’t let reporters put words in your mouth. Reporters often ask leading questions that you may parrot back unconsciously. For example, a reporter covering a debate may ask, “Isn’t this exciting?” to which the interviewee may say “Yes,” or even “Yes, it’s exciting.” The reporter then may write, “WSU professor John Doe called the debate exciting.”
  • It is best to avoid jargon when doing interviews.