There are some things that don’t need words to work. Good interviews, however, aren’t one of them. After all, the purpose of any dialogue between interviewer and interviewee that is designed for publication is to expound on the messages being addressed at the readers of a publication or website, present the interviewee’s company in a positive light and/or position oneself as an opinion leader. Every interview has its own unique set of requirements and objectives. Expertise and good preparation on the part of the interviewee are pivotal to success. Moreover, it is important to agree on practical details prior to the interview – such as whether the journalist should conduct the interview face-to-face or by phone, what topics should be discussed and how much time should be scheduled – so as to ensure a smooth and efficient process.
Not everyone is great at improvising. But everyone can be well prepared.
Ultimately, the finished interview is geared towards the reader. That’s why your preparations should always begin with thinking about the relevant information for the target audience. In addition, the more precisely and in-depth you prepare, the more competent, authentic and credible you will appear to the interviewer. Proper preparation makes it possible to address the particular information needs completely and with lasting impact. What’s more, you can also have questions sent to you in advance so that you can prepare responses. However, that doesn’t mean that the interviewer won’t ask you other questions during your conversation.
Cool, calm and collected.
The roles of interviewer and interviewee are clearly defined during an interview, although the interviewee usually knows more about the topic at hand than the journalist. However, the interviewee shouldn’t see the interview as a test of his or her expertise. It is also advisable to remain focused on the key facts throughout the interview.
Perfectly prepared and memorised statements can often impede the flow of conversation. The best thing to do is to engage in the interview like you would in a normal conversation and to discuss core messages in simple, easy-to-understand sentences while offering clear explanations of specialised terminology and underpinning statements with examples. All of that will help avoid misunderstandings. Notes on facts and figures can also help you focus your full attention on the conversation. After all, the statements you make need to be correct and capable of standing up to scrutiny by the journalist and the readers. Also keep in mind that it is okay to take brief breaks during the conversation and come back to unanswered questions a short time later.
Get the message across successfully.
At the end of the day, the point of a successful interview isn’t to pack as much information as possible on a topic into a short space of time. Sound data on the most important aspects, on the other hand, help to guarantee high quality. That’s why the more precisely you prepare, the more competent you will appear during an interview. Doing so will also make it easier for you to answer tricky questions.
That being said, here’s to an enjoyable and successful next interview!
Carola Tesche is the editor-in-chief of med engineering. A freelance journalist, she is also a contributor for publications such as VDI Nachrichten and IKZ Haustechnik.