Of the many types of interviews in todays rushed world, telephone interviews are becoming increasingly popular (they tend to be over much quicker than in-person interviews, and they require less down-time for traveling). However, although you may not meet the journalist in person, it remains vital that you prepare for a telephone interview just as thoroughly as you would for any other form of questioning by a reporter.
Here are some survival tips on how to get ready for a telephone interview:
Change your clothes
Believe it or not, studies have shown that people who dress professionally for a phone interview will perform better than those dressed casually.
Make sure it’s quiet
It goes without saying that you should turn off the TV, the radio and even put your mobile on silent (if you are conducting the interview from your landline – which is preferable), and make sure the kids are not running around and shouting in the room. This is no time for distractions.
Use a landline phone
Mobile phones can be very unpredictable; signal strength can waver and batteries can die. This interruption will not only interfere with your train of thought, it will also distract the interviewer, potentially having a negative impact on the ultimate message you are trying to get across. Consequences are even more dire if your phone cuts out in the middle of a live radio interview!
When you smoke on the phone, your breathing sounds funny because you pause to take a puff and pause to exhale. It also makes you seem very nervous.
Speak slowly and enunciate clearly
This is crucial in any situation where what you are saying is conveyed verbally. People need to hear and understand the message in order for it to be intelligible.
Prepare your key message
Always identify the Number One message you want to get across to the reporter and make sure you weave it into your answers several times.
Use notes if you need them
It’s OK to refer to notes in front of you. This will help you focus on the key points that you want to convey.
Never say “No Comment”
Most people nowadays assume that means you are guilty of something. Try doing what the politicians do and work your response to your advantage, directing the answer to a more appropriate message.
Assume everything you say will be quoted
Nothing is ever off the record. Always be prepared, and never let your guard down, or say something that you will regret later. This is another reason why it’s so important to prepare for a telephone interview.
Finally do not demand to see the story before publication; however you can offer that you would be happy to review the factual accuracy of the story if the reporter is happy to share the draft with you. You may not have creative control over the finished product, but with the right planning, you won’t need it.