How to Prepare for an Interview

If a reporter schedules an interview with you, don’t wing it. Here’s how to prepare:

  • Do your homework. You know the subject well or you wouldn’t have agreed to the interview. Nevertheless, conduct research on the Internet to learn about opposing points of view. Assume those opposing points will come up during the interview and prepare responses. While you’re on the Web, find some of the reporter’s articles to get a sense of how he or she reports a story. Read especially carefully any stories on the subject you’ll be discussing.

  • Have in mind two or three main points you’d like to make. Try to include them—as seamlessly as possible—in the interview.

  • Know when to stop talking. Avoid lengthy, repetitive responses.

  • Never lose your cool. Be prepared for tough questions and take them in stride, even if you’re seething inside.

  • Assume that everything you say is on the record, unless explicitly specified otherwise. That includes pre-interview small talk and any follow-up questions or conversations. If you don’t want to read it in the paper or hear it on TV, don’t say it.

  • Avoid jargon. If you have to use industry-specific terminology, explain it, but make sure you don’t come across as condescending.