Whether it’s for a new product or service or to share your expertise on a big industry happening, interviews don’t exactly have a reputation for being fun. In fact, if you type “interviews are” into the Google search bar, a majority of the suggestions can make them appear downright scary. Interviews can be nerve-wracking for many different reasons – you want to make sure you’re conveying the information you intend to, not sharing things you don’t want to see in print and sometimes you just get nervous, especially when speaking to someone new.
For companies, especially start-ups, building press relationships through interviews is an essential tactic to build awareness for your brand. So, how can we make something with such an intimidating reputation a more positive experience? Preparation.
Who is the Interviewer?
A great starting place for any media interview is to look into your interviewer. Do some research on the reporter, and look back at previously-written articles or interviews the reporter has published. This will help you gain a better understanding of their writing style and the kinds of questions the reporter is likely to ask. Take it a step further and do some research on the reporter themselves. Look at their social media platforms and get a feel for their personality. Maybe you and the interviewer share something in common, such as attending the same university or sharing an appreciation for pets. These shared interests can be a great way to connect on a human level.
Think it Through Before the Interview
When outlining what you want to share during your interview, a great starting place is to define the goals of your interview. In other words, WHY you’re being interviewed in the first place. What main message do you want to leave with the journalist and their audience and what do you want them to take away from your interview?
With the objective of the interview in mind, you can begin to formalize the key points you’d like to address. With your key points, you should also make note of any specific examples that would help illustrate or explain your statements, such as evidence, data, case studies or even analogies. However, one of the most important things to consider for your key points is how that information is relevant to the interviewer’s platform. Tailor your key points to address the specific issues that this audience cares about.
If possible, you should consider taking things a step further— how would you recommend the audience solve this problem? Tying your key messages to actionable insights that the audience can use is a great way to make your interview memorable. The more developed your responses, the better impression you’ll make on the audience. In turn, the journalist and their readers may turn to you in the future as a thought leader in your respective industry.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best thing one can do before any interview is practice. There is no such thing as too much practice.
Ask someone in your company to draft mock interview questions and stand in as your interviewer. Mock scenarios give you the experience of presenting your prepared responses to another person. Oftentimes, things you want to say sound differently out loud than they do written down. You may catch errors or changes you may want to make in your responses once you hear yourself speak. The person you’re practicing with might be able to give you specific pointers on what you could work on. Your overall sense of preparedness can easily be assessed by your mock interviewer, and you’ll know where you need to focus more of your practice time.
If you don’t have anyone available to practice with, do not stress. Try recording yourself and review the footage for any changes you may want to make. Using the notes you’ve drafted, you can run through your potential responses to see how natural they feel. If you realize what you’ve written doesn’t feel like something you’d say naturally, adjusting it so that you feel more comfortable and confident during the interview. This is also an excellent opportunity to think through the quotes you’d like to see potentially published.
Take a Deep Breath…and RELAX
In some instances, interviewees may second guess themselves on why they are taking part in an interview. When imposter syndrome rears its ugly head, rest assured that you’re being interviewed because you have valuable and/or interesting information the interviewer believes to be relevant for their audience. An interview isn’t a test, but a conversation where you’re the expert and the audience wants to hear from you.
Don’t let your nerves hold you back. People tend to be more closed off, when nervous, but for an interview, you’ll want to seem approachable and maintain a high energy level. The more you can demonstrate your passion for the topic you’re discussing, the better. Finally, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through! We are all people, and when we see or hear people bring stories to life, it makes the interviewee more relatable.
Despite the nerves of interview-planning, no one can deny their effectiveness in getting yourself and your business recognized. If you have an interview on the horizon and want to do in-depth media training, or are looking to break into the media scene, reach out to us at Evergreen & Oak.