Do you need to prepare for a big phone interview? While it may seem safer than a face to face, the phone presents its own challenges. Follow these steps to deliver your best interview.
Step 1: Interview the reporters. Before you agree to an interview, glean as much information from reporters as you can. Find out who they are, who they write for and who their intended audience is. See if you can dig a little deeper, too. Who else will they interview? What’s their angle? Some reporters will divulge more than others, but it never hurts to ask respectfully. If they don’t wish to answer, don’t force the issue. You don’t want to put the interviewer on the defensive.
Step 2: Gather your notes. Odds are you have a good idea of what the interview is about. Consider questions that reporters could ask and prepare answers. This isn’t so you can repeat them word for word like a robot, but having good bullet points to work off of will help you not get stuck. Try and anticipate any “gotcha” type questions they could come up with. Know what you’re going to say because if there are any skeletons in the closet, reporters will try to pull them out.
Step 3: Find a quiet spot, free of distraction. This is usually not your office. Your office might be quiet, but it’s not free of distraction. However, if your office is the only quiet option, make sure you clear off your desk so you aren’t tempted to handle other pressing matters during the interview. And, don’t do it at home if there’s a chance a kid is going to run in the room.
Step 4: Get mobile. I don’t mean use your mobile device, but get up from your desk, open up your lungs, and get moving. When you stand and pace you will get pumped up, sound more confident, and stay busy, which will calm your nerves. Find a good hands-free device so you aren’t tied to your desk. Do not use a speaker phone—the sound quality is terrible and reporters will feel as if the world is listening.
Step 5: Use appropriate body language. I know what you’re thinking—”No one can see me over the phone.” And you’re right, if you aren’t using Skype or FaceTime. But it doesn’t matter whether or not your interviewer can see you. When you speak with your body (smiling, moving your hands to make a point, furrowing your brow when serious) interviewers can often hear it in your voice. This can help you come across as more passionate.
Step 6: Speak slowly. Reporters have to turn this interview into a story. That means they type up notes during the interview, or record it to write up later. Either way, talk slowly and deliberately. Enunciate clearly and pause from time-to-time to ensure they got what they needed. You may even ask if they want you to repeat something every now and then to show you’re trying to help them out.
Can you think of anything else that could help out?
A version of this story first appeared on PR Fuel.