Close menu Resources for... William & Mary
W&M menu close William & Mary

Interview Tips

Advice for Working with the Media

Before working with either print or broadcast media ALWAYS feel comfortable contacting the Office of University Communications. We can help with talking points and/or interview tips and, when time permits, mock interviews.

Make sure you know the news outlet you are speaking to and the name of the reporter. If you are unfamiliar with either, contact University Communications.

1. Be Timely.

Call reporters back quickly. Media are generally under tight deadlines, and the earlier you respond, the more likely it will be that you will be included in the story. Make sure you call the journalist back before the deadline, even if it's just to explain an unforeseen obstacle. If the deadline passes without a response from you the story could still be used but report that you were unavailable for comment, implying indifference or defensiveness.

2. Prepare And Keep It Simple.

Have a list of three brief points you want to make during the interview. The more concise your points/message the better.

3. Stay the Course.

Don’t feel compelled to answer a leading question. Think of a question as a jumping off point and an opportunity to say what YOU want. Redirect phrases like "What I would say..."; "My research shows..." or "The facts as I understand them..." are good bridges from the question to the answers you want to provide.

4. Silence Can Be Golden.

Don't be afraid of silence. Make your point and stop talking. Silence is the interviewer's problem not yours.

5. Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say.

Answer in complete sentences so that the answer can stand on its own. For instance, if you are asked "What color is the wall?", instead of answering "white," say "The color of the wall is white." Never, however, repeat false information from a question.

If you don't want to see it in print or hear it on the news, don't say it.

6. Is This Live Or Is It Memorex?

Know if the interview is being recorded. It's always fine to ask.