This is the seventh in a series of blogs about what media training trainees think when they come to a session. We talk here about keeping your feet out of your mouth during an interview.
Many interviewees make errors during interviews; fortunately only a few of these spokespeople make mistakes that will have lasting repercussions. Nevertheless, interviewees can rue their misspeaks long into the future and, in a few cases, so can their organizations. So, how does one keep his or her feet out of his/her mouth during questioning by a reporter?
The best way to avoid saying things that you’ll regret during an interview is to prepare what you want to say before the engagement. Have your own story. Open with your angle and the rest of your key information. Predict the questions you’ll be asked and have good answers ready.
Despite the best preparations, there still may be questions that leave you stymied. ‘How do I answer that one?’ Surprisingly, all of these questions can be handled with aplomb if you follow a few basic rules and keep in mind that you should answer only questions that are your responsibility.
Here’s an example of rules to be followed: you are being interviewed about the network of resellers that are offering your latest product to customers. You are asked, “How many resellers do you expect to have in your network by year’s end?” If you give an answer, you may be locking the company into actually attracting that many partners. The rule is Do Not Speculate. Your answer, therefore, is not “We are hoping at least 150 resellers will be carrying our product,” since that is speculative. Your correct answer is, “I can’t speculate on that but I can tell you our product has all the features that will appeal to many potential resellers and, of course, to their customers.”
Here’s a question that might take you out of your area of expertise. You are a VP being interviewed about a hiring fair to be held by your company. The reporter comments, “We received a complaint from a person who said they think your company is prejudiced against hiring people of her religion. What do you say to that?” This is out of your comfort zone and your answer should reflect this: “That’s a question for our Human Resources Manager and I’ll put you in touch with her after I tell you a bit more about our hiring event.”
The point is that there are good answers to any questions you may be asked. With good media training that includes the rules, you never have to look like a deer in the headlights when you are being interviewed.