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Interviews: Pass or Fail?


Failure to take control.

The spokesperson is there to disseminate information, not just answer questions

Failure to anticipate questions.

There should be few or no surprises in an interview

Failure to deliver key messages.

Know the key message before the interview and practice getting it in.

Failure to stick to facts.

Speculating or answering hypothetical questions can get you into trouble. Confine answers to what is known.

Failure to stay calm.

When you stay cool, you show a willingness to cooperate with reporters and convey an impression of candor.


Here are a few techniques that can help ensure you communicate your key points successfully. Use the following to help you steer the questions in the direction you want to go:

  • Bridging. First answer the direct question, then transition to your message. Some bridging phrases examples:

  • What's important to remember, however …

  • What that means is …

  • That's a good point, but I think you'd be interested in knowing …

  • Let ‘s put this in context …

  • I see this in context…

  • Flagging. Underscore the importance of certain points or concepts in your responses with a distinct hand gesture or phrase, or flag, such as "The most important thing to understand is ...."

  • Hooking. Before and after the interview, try to arouse, or hook, the interviewer's curiosity by bringing up topics on your agenda. Often, this simple "hook" will lead to questions that flow nicely into your messages.

  • Repeating. During the interview, repeat your key messages as often as possible to increase the chances your audience will recall them. This also ensures your interviewer will remember them clearly as well.

  • Don't be a Slave to a Question. Think about the question and analyze its significance. Then build a bridge to your agenda by using such phrases as "Let me put that into perspective" or "Let me put that into a different context."

  • Listen Carefully. Don't be afraid to ask interviewer for clarification, if you don't understand the question. Ask your own question, such as "Do you mean... or … ?"

  • Silence is OK. Give your answer and then stop talking. Don't be intimidated by silence into saying more than you should. Use silence to collect your thoughts and compose yourself.


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