Saturday, May 27, 2006

Interviewing 101

I've done quite a few interviews, both live and through email, and I always make sure I avoid the Common Interview Mistakes.

What are the Common Interview Mistakes? I'm glad you asked.
  1. Being Long Winded. Trust me, you aren't nearly as interesting as you think you are. Keep your answers short and punchy.
  2. Getting Off Track. Stick to the topic and question, and limit the meandering. Focus, get to the point, then conclude.
  3. Reading Cue Cards. It's easy to go on autopilot when you're asked the same question a thousand times. Remember that this may be the first time your audience hears your answer, so make sure you don't sound like you're repeating something you memorized.
  4. No Enthusiasm. Being upbeat and enjoying the process is just as important as anything you have to say. Your answers won't be remembered. Your attitude will.
  5. Being Boring. The best interviews entertain as well as inform. Infodumps are yawn-inducing. But clever banter, jokes, and controversy are always welcome.
  6. Hesitating. In live interviews, using 'uh' and 'um' all the time is unprofessional, and sounds bad. In print interviews, make sure every word counts. You probably don't need many of those modifiers, that back story, or that description. Cut it.
  7. Not Understanding Image. Too many authors don't consider what kind of image they want to portray. This is a lost opportunity, because a carefully cultivated and maintained image goes a long way to helping you establish your brand. I've worked hard to be known as a tireless self-promoter, as an outrageous personality, and as a writer who combines laughs with scares. Everything I do in the public eye is geared toward advancing these images.
  8. Pomposity. No one likes a person who is self-absorbed, superior, dismissive, or ungrateful. Be nice, and be humble. Your shit stinks. Believe it.
  9. Ignoring Time and Space. I'm not talking about physics. I'm talking about time slots and space considerations. If your radio spot is supposed to last for two minutes, don't have ten minutes worth of things to say. If your interview has to be 800 words, don't give them 2000. Stay within the expected duration.

Interviews are tremendous opportunities for writers. Don't waste them.