Basics of Interviewing

I have a lot of friends who are writers, and a lot of them worry about interviews. Interviews are an integral part of marketing, but they’re also a little daunting to think about. Writing tend to be a little reclusive. They communicate their ideas through words for a reason. To try to formulate all that into conversation, on the spot, while being recorded? Are you insane?

The truth is that interviewing really isn’t that hard. Most of the work will be done by the interviewer. A good interviewer will be friendly and charismatic, and quickly put you at ease. He or she will go over the basics first, so you’re not caught off guard by any of the questions.

“But how will I know what to say?” You ask. “What if my mind goes blank and there’s an awkward pause?

That’s the interviewer’s job. If your interviewer notices you’re having trouble with a question they’ll fill in the silence, or rephrase the question. They’ll keep the ball rolling so that awkwardness never occurs.

Here are some basic tips to remember so you don’t have to stress out the next time you get an offer to be interviewed on a podcast, radio, or TV show!

Be understandable.

Enunciate your words clearly, so that people can understand what you’re saying. Project them, don’t mumble. Don’t worry speaking loud enough, that’s what mikes are for. Use a normal, conversational tone of voice, but speak clearly.

Be concise

Take your time answering questions, but don’t ramble on for ten minutes about that time your cat sat on your keyboard and erased half the project before answering the question about how you got the idea for your novel. Find out from the interviewer how long the interview is going to last, and keep that in mind when you answer your questions.

Come Prepared

If you’re a writer the interviewer will be asking about your book. You should be prepared to give a nice concise summary of the plot of the book, as well as relevant information such as length, genre, target age, and where to get it. You should have this information on hand and memorized to spout off at the slightest indication that someone might want to know.

For TV

TV interviews are different, since you’ll actually be visible to the people watching the show. There are a few extra tips to keep in mind

Hands

No one ever knows what to do with hands. The best thing for a short TV interview is to put them in your lap and leave them there. And try not to think about them too much. Don’t fiddle with things – it’s distracting to everyone.

Where to Look

My co-director in theatre doesn’t like the TV and movie industry. He prefers the organic nature of live theatre. When I interviewed with him he freaked out, despite being the older, more experience of the pair. His main concern was – where do you look?

Look at the person you’re talking to. We all know this from basic manner school. This means either the interviewer, or the general direction of the camera. The audience is on the other side of the camera, so it’s okay to address them directly. If you don’t know where the camera is, ask the interviewer. When in doubt, just keep your eyes on the interviewer and talk directly to him or her, like you would in a normal conversation. Don’t worry about the cameras.

Smile

Like any in-person situation, always remember to put on your best smile. It makes you look friendly and outgoing and likable.

Good luck!


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