Middlebury

Interview Tips

When the media are looking for a comment regarding a news story they are working on, they tend to call our office first and then we connect them with you. Sometimes, though, they will contact you directly.

Typically, you will spend 15–30 minutes with an interviewer and perhaps only one quote (or none) will make it into the story. Don’t get discouraged. If you are helpful and articulate, they will call again.

Here are some tips to consider when and if the media call

  1. If you are comfortable with the topic and feel prepared to answer the questions, go ahead and do the interview.
  2. If you think some preparation would be helpful, tell the reporter you need a few moments and that you will call back.  (BUT don’t wait too long; they are deadline driven.)
  3. Feel free to ask for sample questions so you can begin to formulate some answers.
  4. Feel free to ask who else is being interviewed, to give you some context.
  5. Be sure to ask how the interview will be used—online, in print, etc.
  6. Avoid saying “No comment” since it can imply you are hiding something. You can always ask to “get back to you on that.”
  7. Don’t speculate! You know you are heading that way if your sentence begins anything like “If…” or “I suppose.” It’s not uncommon for reporters to ask these kinds of questions, and it’s always okay for you to say, “I can’t speculate on that.”
  8. There’s no such thing as “off the record.” It may sound good on TV, but if it leaves your lips during, before or after an interview—i.e., in front of the reporter at any time—it’s definitely usable in the story.
  9. Keep the interview on track. Feel free to restate your comments so as not to stray.
  10. Don’t be afraid to pause and take your time.
  11. Be sure to ask the reporter’s name, affiliation, and phone number, in case you want to clarify something later.
  12. If a reporter interviews you on camera, choose a place that feels comfortable and neutral. Take a look around and ask yourself what the reporter will see.
  13. Alert Sarah Ray (ray@middlebury.edu or 443-5794) before (if possible) and after the interview takes place so she can do the necessary follow-up.