November 1, 2022

Preparing for an interview: tips for success

Media training, Public relations, Publicity, Strategy

Length: 7.5-minute read

Quick summary: Media interviews are a powerful way of sharing a brand’s message and can help to leave a positive and lasting impression. This article looks at the importance of correctly preparing for an interview and tips for successfully reflecting key messaging.

Preparing for an interview is critical to confidently delivering key messages

Two people, handsome black man rehearsing a speech in bedroom, his girlfriend is sitting on bed behind him.

Media interviews are a powerful way to share a business’s message with new and existing audiences, so it’s important to implement effective strategies to ensure the message is received the way you intended it. When you’re speaking with a journalist, whether it’s on the phone, face-to-face, or virtually, your company’s reputation is in your hands. With the correct preparation and guidance, you can turn a media interview into a chance to build credibility and authority while also gaining positive attention for you and your business.

Whether it’s proactive or reactive, the aim of an interview is to get your key messages across to your target audience. Without preparation, it’s easy to forget that it isn’t a normal conversation; an interview is a transaction. If all goes well, you will gain attention for your company and the journalist gets a good story. For both parties to gain something from this transaction, journalists need solid, quotable information to include in their piece. At the same time, you need to convey a positive, interesting, and accurate image of your company.

Why you should learn how to prepare for an interview

Although described as a transaction, media interviews are not designed to directly sell your products or services. Instead, they should offer value and insight into what your business does both for your customers and the industry at large. This can be a tricky balance so preparing for an interview is essential. Learning how to prepare well is just as important.

Avoiding the pitfalls involved in speaking with media is easy when you know how. Just like an athlete, as a company spokesperson you’ll need to train and practice diligently so you can perform at your peak for the ‘big game’.

Engaging with an experienced PR agency like Recognition PR can help you gain greater insight and understanding into the interview process to ensure your ongoing success. Recognition PR has more than three decades of experience in the industry and helps clients prepare for media interviews every day.

 Here are three of the most common questions we get about interview preparation:

1. What are the key steps for interview preparation?

Preparing for an interview is a process, and there are four easy steps that we recommend following to prepare:

1. Understand your messaging

Having a clear understanding of your goals and what you hope to accomplish with your messaging is vital. This creates confidence to help you present in a calm, clear, and coherent way. It’s important to keep the key brand messages positive and impactful to resonate with the audience.

2. Keep answers simple

In these environments, your audience needs to digest information quickly, so it’s essential to keep your answers short, simple, and to the point. If you take too long to respond, use too much jargon, or use too many filler words such as ‘um’, you will lose the audience’s attention. Short, clear responses drive key messaging and ensure you remain in control.

3. Stay in control

Preparing for a media interview helps you calmly handle questions intended to provoke or create an untrue narrative. Preparing and knowing how to get the focus back to the key messaging is important.

 4. Always practice

Practice is the best way to convey your messaging clearly and confidently. Preparation and practice take the pressure off and help to generate a positive impression.

2. I‘m already confident speaking on the topic, why do I need to prepare?

journalists interviewing smiling successful businessman with microphones and smartphones

While you may have a confident grasp of what you want to say, you can’t predict how prepared the journalist is. Australian journalists will rarely be happy to simply take dictation. It’s likely that a journalist has researched you, your company, and contextual industry trends, and will arrive with specific questions and an agenda.

If you want to achieve a positive outcome from the media interview, you will need to make sure that:

  • you have an interesting and newsworthy story to tell
  • you can tell your story in an engaging and confident manner
  • you have an answer for any question that could arise, even if it’s a polite redirection to someone else in your company.

Preparing for an interview is a non-negotiable step when aiming for successful media interviews.

3. What are the benefits of being well prepared?

A multi-ethnic group of business professionals are listening to a presentation from a colleague during a meeting in the boardroom. They are clapping after a presentation.

Successful media interviews can provide press coverage that reflects positively on your business, and advances the conversation while building much-needed trust and credibility. To put it bluntly, this is unlikely to be the result if you aren’t prepared.

Preparing for media interviews ensures:

  • you are less likely to be blindsided by an unexpected question
  • you will be more knowledgeable, confident, and trustworthy
  • you will be able to provide correct and complete answers.

Preparation is the key to interview success

Shot of a group of businesspeople clapping during a conference

When done correctly, media interviews are a great opportunity to share your business’s messaging and have your voice heard. Having a positive media appearance is likely to create a lasting impression. Strategic preparation ensures your interview will be polished and the key messages are refined and well communicated.

Remember: you can’t just recite the words a journalist will publish, nor can you check or approve their work. Only with careful interview preparation can you maximise your chances of positive coverage.

For more information on preparing for an interview, or to book a media training session for your company, complete the form below.

cameraman with video camera and news reporter interviewing executive businessman



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