You’ve booked the interview. Check. You sent the producer talking points. Check. You meet the interviewer and they seem really nice and ready to go. Check. The interview starts out well but takes a turn. The interviewer is asking you questions you are not prepared for, ones that you don't want to answer. What do you do?
- Don’t send a list of questions you will not answer – prior to the interview it is okay to send talking points if the producer wants them. It is not okay to send a list of questions you won’t answer. That alerts the producer and interviewer that you may have something to hide and there is a bigger story to share. They will definitely ask the questions you don’t want asked.
- Answer any questions in a positive way. You may know that your business has some issues that have resulted in some poor publicity. Respond as truthfully and positively as possible. (“Your company has experienced massive layoffs. How is employee morale?” – “We know it’s difficult a time for many in the company. We are offering retraining to those affected.”)
- Answer the question with the answer you want to share. If you are really expert at interviewing you can pull this off. It takes practice. Role play with your public relations manager or a trusted colleague before attempting this. (“Your company has experienced massive layoffs. How is employee morale?” – “We are dedicated to our employees during this difficult time. We have established our “One Step Ahead” program for current and outgoing employees for retraining and college grade courses to improve their skill sets. We are really proud of our stand to take care of our employees during this challenging time.”)
You can never know when an interviewer will completely ignore your topic and ask questions about that are more scandalous in nature. You can't blame them since this is what their viewers want to know. Be prepared mentally for the worst case scenario and you should come out pretty unscathed.