These three interviews are ones we show in our media training courses when we’re explaining to delegates the importance of interview preparation.
Even if you have a PR team who set up the interview and provide a briefing, as the interviewee, you need to take some responsibility for getting ready for your interview.
After all, it won’t be the PR team’s reputation which will be shredded if you come across badly – it will be yours.
These three interviews all demonstrate how important preparation is:
Anticipate the questions you may be asked
Your interview preparation needs to include anticipating what questions may be asked – the obvious “who, what, where, when and why” questions, plus the most difficult question you may be asked – and any off-topic, off-the-wall or personal questions which may come up.
This clearly didn’t happen in this interview between the former Cabinet Minister Francis Maude and Eddie Mair on PM on Radio Four.
2. Know your facts
In this interview, the Home Office minister Victoria Atkins doesn’t know the police numbers across the UK – clearly part of her remit. She does have the grace to admit she doesn’t know them, but not knowing these facts doesn’t inspire confidence in her abilities.
3. Research your interviewer
There is no excuse nowadays for not reading/listening/watching whatever news outlet you’re going to be interviewed for. Every newspaper, radio and TV programme is available online, and you can easily research the journalist who is doing the interview with a quick Google search.
If Liz Truss had done that, she may have realised that Eddie Mair (on LBC this time), has a tendency to ask personal questions (see Francis Maude interview above) and anticipated his questions about austerity.
These are three things you should be doing to as part of your interview preparation. Others include knowing why you’re being interviewed and establish how you are going to deliver your key messages in the most engaging and effective way.