The concept of a media interview is simple. One person asks the questions, the other person answers them. In today’s media, with handlers, PR people and media savvy (and weary) interview subjects, interviews can get a bit more difficult to manage and if you’re not careful it can get away from you.
Who’s asking the questions here? If you find yourself talking more than listening – you are in trouble. It’s okay for an interviewee to be interested in your background or publication, but honestly your life story is not that interesting. It’s a distraction to the reason why you’re there.
Yes, yes, you’re fabulous… Flattery will get you everything, including softball questions from an interviewer. Let’s not let your self-esteem get in the way of the questions – make friends some other time.
Whoa, what was the question again? One minute your subject is talking about social media techniques, the next minute they’re talking about pruning bushes and grandma’s 80th birthday party. Keep your subject on task and on topic.
Freebies are not free. Journalists are trained not to take anything free from a interview subject. Better to die of thirst while interviewing a sub-Saharan crab than to take a drink of free water that could impair your impartial status. Bloggers are often less rigid, but know that those freebies for ‘review’ may come with strings and taint your interview.
No take backs. Subjects that want something off the record should say it before they drop the information. If they try to take something back you need to put them on notice that they missed their opportunity. Sounds harsh, but an interview full of take backs is frustrating and manipulative.
I wanna see first. Interview subjects often try to get the questions ahead of time, for pre-approval or whatever and it’s a sure way to kill an interview. It invites push back before you ever get started and obviously you lose any real spontaneity in the interview.
Let me take a peek. Your notes, your article and your recordings are yours. Unless you want to spend the next several weeks getting changes and tweaks from the subject, never reveal your notes, article, etc. until the piece is published.
There are more out there – share your tips on how to lose control of an interview below!