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Experts Need to Prepare for Interviews, Too!

Make the most of your media interview by following these tips.

You just scored an interview with a top-tier media outlet, and the reporter wants your insights for an upcoming story! You’re keenly aware this could generate some awesome exposure for your brand, and it’s a great opportunity to share your expertise and build your credibility as a thought leader.

Go from an expert in your field to an expert interviewee.

No one knows your business better than you. And you are confident you can answer any question thrown your way. But a successful interview requires more than subject matter expertise. Preparation and practice are essential to making the most of a media interview.

Here are five tips to help you go from an expert in your field to an expert interviewee:

1. Do Your Research (aka Know Your Audience)
You do not want to go into any interview blind. Start by researching your interviewer. Read a few of their recent articles to get a sense of the types of questions they might ask and the general tone of their work. Have they written about a similar topic recently? You want to determine if you will be educating a writer who may be unfamiliar with the topic or entering a conversation already in progress with someone well versed in your industry.

Then, look at the media outlet. Learning about the outlet’s audience should inform your approach—your messaging should sound different whether you’re speaking to CMOs or engineers, business prospects or consumers. Lastly, explore what other experts in the field are saying on the interview topic, ensuring you have a strong footing in how your perspective compares to others.

Proper research beforehand will not only help you understand what you are walking into, but also boost your confidence during the discussion.

2. Prepare Talking Points
Attention spans have shrunk significantly in recent years. Press coverage is increasingly succinct, and small, digestible morsels of information are easier to drop into a story, especially if the reporter is speaking to multiple resources. Couple that with reporters who are often overscheduled and on tight deadlines, and you can see why it is imperative to communicate your message efficiently and effectively.

Before your interview, take time to establish your objectives and refine your messaging. Ask yourself, “What is the one thing I want the audience to take away from what I’m saying?” Developing and practicing key talking points in advance will help you communicate your message clearly and concisely, regardless of the many variables that may enter your interview.

3. Assume Everything You Say is “On the Record”
You can assist a reporter with their story by providing background information like case studies or market reports before or after the interview, but you should assume anything you say—or write—to a member of the media has the potential to be quoted. If you need to provide information “off the record,” you should not schedule an interview.

4. Pay Attention to Nonverbals
Now that you’ve done your research and polished your talking points, you’re ready to nail your interview, right? Not quite. When talking to a reporter, it’s not enough to recite messages you’ve memorized.

Nonverbals, including facial expressions, tone and pitch, physical gestures, and posture, make up over 65% of all communication. How you say something is just as important as what you say. You need to make sure your nonverbal communication and general appearance don’t detract from your message. And you need to pay attention to the cues your interviewer is providing. Are they hanging on your every word or checking their watch? Adjust accordingly.

The phone interviews of yesteryear have been replaced by video calls. Smile and show your enthusiasm for the topic being discussed so it’s clear that the conversation is important to you.

5. Structure Your Answers
While it is easy to get sidetracked and veer off to other topics, you want to answer questions in such a way that your interviewer picks up on your key messages. Structure your responses to help stay on message:

  1. Acknowledge the question: Comment on why the question is important or relevant.
  2. Connect to a key message: Relate the question to one of your key talking points.
  3. Add proof: You can substantiate your key message by providing evidence in the form of a related statistic or anecdotal example.
  4. End your answer with a thematic key message: Master interviewees can use the end of one answer as an opportunity to dangle a related talking point. Think of it as a carrot to entice the reporter to ask a specific follow-up question and guide the discussion in the direction you want to go.

Looking for more than just a basic primer? Media training can help ensure you’re ready to tackle your interviews with confidence! To learn more about our interactive media training, email us at