At one time face to face interviews with journalists were all that was available. Now with changes to the way we can communicate and those tricky budget costs, many journalists spend much of their time in their office. This means they will often carry out interviews over the phone, so these skills are essential if you deal with any part of the media. Fortunately we discuss all of this and more in our media interview training courses – here is just a flavour of the key points we cover:

Why telephone interviews are tricky

In most cases, if you are being interviewed, it will take place over the phone unless it is some kind of in-depth or televised interview – or there’s some major problem and you are being doorstepped!

There are particular risks and pitfalls involved with phone interviews as people often find it easier to be more aggressive and tougher when you aren’t in person.  But if you know how to work with phone interviews, you can also have greater success with them.

Key points for telephone interviews

When we work with a client to prepare for a telephone interview, there are several key points we consider.  By using some or all of these, you can be best prepared for the interview, feel confident and have success.

Plan your messages

The first thing to do is to plan your messages – what are the points you must get into the article and what supporting information do you need for them?  This might be case studies, stats, anecdotes or even just fun facts.  By preparing the message and supporting materials, you have a firm foundation for the interview.

Practice your delivery

While you can’t practice the whole interview because you never know exactly what will come up, you can practice delivery of key points and even scenarios that are likely.  Then you can work on adding the right energy and enthusiasm to your voice without shouting or becoming too aggressive.  Don’t forget to stand while doing the interview as it makes the delivery better.

Creates notes or a factsheet for the journalist

When you prepare your message, you can also send some of the key notes or a factsheet to the journalist too.  This means they have accurate data to use in the interview and also helps to ensure the report is a factual one, based on information.

Prepare for those silences

If you are being interviewed by a journalist who writes everything down, be prepared for those awkward silences while they make notes – and resist the urge to fill them!  This is the point where people most often say something, they didn’t want to say so just go through the silence and wait for the interview to continue.

To Skype or not to Skype?

One final point to consider if the option to have the interview via Skype rather than on the phone.  There are potential hazards to this to consider, although it may be an integral part of the interview if they plan to use the video element as well as written content. If you do a Skype interview with visual, think about your body language during the interview. Put on all the lights to make the place look bright and inviting and put the camera so you look slightly up to it.