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How Ready Are You To Be Interviewed?

Posted by on Feb 21, 2011

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of being interviewed for Carolee Sperry’s Blog Talk Radio show called Blogging Biz Mom. She does this show every Wednesday at 6:30, and I was honored to be the guest this time around. The show only lasts 30 minutes, and though I can’t say I’ve caught close to all of them, I have listened to a couple here and there when I’ve had the chance. If you’d like to listen to the interview we did, you can download it here; it’s an MP3, and I’m sure Carolee doesn’t mind. It’s publicity after all.

I love being interviewed. I want more of it, I must admit. Doesn’t matter if it’s print or radio or internet radio, I’m ready. I’m not sure the world is ready for me on TV or with a live audience, but maybe one day we’ll find out. I think I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m always ready to be interviewed. Beverly Mahone has these tips on preparing for a successful interview, and though they’re great tips, I have to own up to the fact that I have rarely done any of those things.

The couple of times I did do it was when Beverly invited me to help her host a couple of shows on older music. In that case I really did do some research and gather some facts on the acts we were going to talk about because, though I knew much of the music and the names, I didn’t know much detail about those songs or the artists; I was kind of young at the time after all.

I want to go in a different direction in talking about being interviewed. I think there’s a mental preparation one has to go through to make sure you’re ready. After all, this isn’t like a speech, where you get to write the entire thing down, memorize it, practice it, then repeat it perfectly to an awaiting audience. This is live, and you have to be calm, collected, funny, engaging, and above all else not come across as nervous.

This last one is a key if you’re being interviewed about something you’re promoting, whether it’s you or something else. If you don’t sound confident, then people are going to think you’re unsure about your business. That’s obviously not true, but if that’s the perception you put out then they’ll feel it and you might as well find a new career.

So here goes, tips for getting ready for an interview:

1. Grab something, act like it’s a microphone, and practice talking. As silly as you might think this is I don’t know a single person who had access to a pen or pencil as a kid that didn’t at least once act like they were doing a radio or TV show. What you want to practice is your “live” voice. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you want to make sure that you speak clearly, speak loud enough without shouting, and not speak so fast that no one knows what you’re saying. You might feel a little silly initially, but you’ll feel natural in no time at all. If you have to practice singing; the right voice will eventually come to you.

2. Sit in a chair while you rehearse. Most interviews you’ll be a part of will have you sitting down. Your diaphragm, where your air comes from when you’re speaking, is a bit more compressed than when you’re standing up. Strange as it seems, you’ll run out of air quicker speaking while sitting than standing if you’re in a stressful situation. Interviews aren’t supposed to be stressful, but you might find it that way. If so, make sure you do this step.

3. Think of at least 5 possible questions you might be asked. This should be really easy because you’re being interviewed about something you do that the person on the other side wants to learn something about. It’s rare that you’ll be interviewed by someone who’s an expert at what you do, but even if they are who says all experts agree with each other? Unless you’ve done something wrong or the person interviewing you is mad at you, there won’t be many “gotcha” moments. In some circumstances interviewers will ask you to give them questions you wish to be asked; that’s makes things really simple.

4. Think of terms you can use to help you buy time in case you can’t come up with a quick answer. I actually did an interview of someone last year for my business blog and I wrote 13 questions up front that I didn’t have the chance to share with her before we began. For more than half of them she thought about it for a few seconds, then led with “Wow, that’s a great question.” It bought her time to formulate what she wanted to say.

5. Be calm. Remember that someone came to you and asked you do to the interview. This means they really want you to do well, and they really believe their audience will like you. No matter what the topic is, at that moment you’re the expert, the star, the one everyone came to hear. This wasn’t an assignment you had to do; this is fun. See it that way and you’ll do just fine.

And there you go. And if you listen to the interview above and want more, you can check out these other interviews I’ve done.

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22 Comments »

I’m normally pretty good at interviews but Its always a good idea to practice before you go in. Great tips, Thanks!

February 21st, 2011 | 11:18 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks for your comment, Tanya; anything I can do to help others, I’ll put it out there.

February 21st, 2011 | 11:47 AM

I don’t find in the situation to give interviews as I usually have others in my company filling the “frontman” role, but for the few I know I think your suggestions are just great.
It’s very important to approach any interview with a relaxed mind, as you say, the person who is interviewing you wants you to do good as much as you do, he/she’s not your enemy at all.
Great advices Mitch.

February 21st, 2011 | 12:14 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Gabriele, I always thought you ran your own company. You mean there’s no way you’d do an interview? How about a written one? In any case, staying comfortable always works best.

February 21st, 2011 | 3:15 PM

My CEO usually is more than happy to run interviews. I don’t have problems with written ones, but I generally am not asked to give “live” ones, I had in some situation and I didn’t have particular problems, but it’s not something I see myself doing on a regular basis. Hope this clarifies 🙂

February 22nd, 2011 | 10:17 AM

Mitch,

These are also very good tips. They’re so good I’m going to link them back to my weblog 🙂

I do think #5 is the most important. Don’t be nervious and freak out. Interview Hosts want polished guests who sound and acts seasoned even if they aren’t. Who has to know you’ve only done ONE interview—if you don’t tell them.

February 21st, 2011 | 1:43 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Exactly Bev. When I did my first interview years ago, I acted like I’d been there before and it went really well. Preparation is the key for me, and I’m sure for you as well.

February 21st, 2011 | 3:16 PM

If anyone tried to interview me I reckon I would run for the hills. Having said that I was actually interviewed for all of 30 seconds and was on the 6pm news. The reporter actually asked me to repeat what I said, minus the swear words. 😀

February 22nd, 2011 | 3:23 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

I wouldn’t have expected anything less from you, my man! lol We have got to get you more publicity! 😉

February 22nd, 2011 | 9:05 AM

Not my thing Im afraid. I’d love to be able to sit confidently in front of a large audience but its not something I can ever see happening.

One way speeches are just about my limit I think

February 22nd, 2011 | 3:50 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

It’s something that seems it’s not for everyone, Peter, and yet look at all the “regular” people who show up on the news these days. If those people can do it and they’re not professionals in any way, why not you? 🙂

February 22nd, 2011 | 9:06 AM

I was quite shy at first but then I realised that there is nothing to be afraid of. I just go and do the best I can, no regrets.

February 22nd, 2011 | 6:00 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Exactly. You just go for it, although if you’re representing your business it doesn’t hurt to prepare.

February 22nd, 2011 | 9:07 AM

I have being at both ends, being a reporter in 2 different local TV stations in the beginning of my career, actually the first one, I was still at high school. I can say it is easier to interview somebody that to be interviewed.

February 22nd, 2011 | 7:32 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

I’ve only ever conducted one live interview, Carl, and was told that it was pretty good and more intensive than she expected I would be. I told her “hey, it’s me; I had to prepare.” 🙂

February 22nd, 2011 | 9:08 AM

I must admit that I’m much more comfortable doing the interview than being the one interviewed. I just feel more in control of the situation (and you know I like being in charge). With that being said, I stay ready for an interview should the opportunity come up. The only challenge I have is getting all of the people in my apartment (the kids) quiet at the same time.

February 22nd, 2011 | 10:34 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s a problem I don’t have, DeAnna. 🙂 And this thing about control is oddly overrated when it comes to interviews because you never really know what the person you’re interviewing is going to say. I’d much rather be the interviewee always.

February 22nd, 2011 | 10:39 AM
Alex:

Hello Mitch, It looks like you are taking one step forward and your goal to have more influence is coming somewhat true.

About interviewing, I am sure that even with your useful tips I wouldn’t be a great interviewee, I always tend to over complicated things and I couldn’t explaining something even if my life would depend on it.

Oh, and the link to your interview in mp3 format is broken, I think you have a L instead of a . (point).

February 23rd, 2011 | 3:49 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks for the correction, Alex. You must have been the first person who’s tried to download it since no one else said anything. lol And speaking in front of others isn’t for everyone, but if you’d wanted to get into it, those tips would certainly help.

February 23rd, 2011 | 9:24 AM

Hey Mitch,

You sound great on that interview … all confident and definitely like somebody famous! 🙂 (I downloaded it from Carolee’s show page).

You’ve shared some really productive tips on how to get yourself ready for an interview. I haven’t been an interviewee lately (I’ve had one request but not sure when that will actually happen.)

Now, when can I get you on my show? 😀

February 23rd, 2011 | 1:58 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Vernessa, all you have to do is ask, set it up, confirm a time and I’ll be there! And thanks for the kudos on the interview; Carolee & I had a great time.

February 23rd, 2011 | 2:29 PM