University Marketing and Communications

Interview Tips

General Tips

  • Ask the reporter the topic(s) about which he/she is interested in learning. This will help you prepare your information. Do not, however, ask for a list of questions; they likely won't give them to you.
  • Prior to the interview, collect your thoughts and even jot down some statistics, or any other details, that you think you might need to refer to during the interview. Contact Public Relations if you want to review your planning or have someone present during an interview.
  • State the most important fact at the beginning before going into less significant details. Reporters typically are not as interested in the minor details of an issue.
  • Don't ever say "no comment."
  • Don't be afraid to answer "I don't know." If you are unsure about a fact, say you'll check on it and get back to them (then do so quickly).
  • Don't get too comfortable with a reporter. Everything you say during the conversation can be quoted.
  • Don't ever ask to see a story before it appears in print.
  • Do use words that the average person can understand. Avoid the jargon of your field.
  • Do talk in short, concise sentences with single points (think sound bites of no more than 15-20 seconds).
  • Last, always be yourself. Although an interview can be stressful, the best rule to remember is that you were contacted because you are the expert. Trust your insight, knowledge, and skill.

On-Camera Tips

  • Always look at the reporter, not the television camera.
  • If the interview is live and you make a mistake, just correct yourself and keep going.
  • If standing, don't sway back and forth.
  • If you are holding papers, don't shuffle them.