Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to answer interview questions.

How to Soar through an Interview

Disclaimer: I've only had a handful of radio interviews.  I've also been known to struggle counting my change at the grocery store.  Yet, if you'd still like to trust the following advice, do so at your own risk.

Point #1
Decide what kind of impression you're trying to make BEFORE the interview even begins.  

Do you want to be funny, thoughtful, insanely provocative?  All right, scratch the last one--wait, that sounds wrong.  You know what I mean.  What are you going for? For example, what could listeners/viewers learn from your answer to this question:  

If you could fight any supervillian who would it be?

You wanna be funny like my brother?
Say, "The Booger."

You wanna be Miss America?
Say, "Hunger."

You wanna be me?
Say, "Vicini, from Princess Bride.  Because I LOVE that guy! 
Best. Conceivable. Villain. E-v-e-r."

But seriously...first impressions matter in interviews.  
How would you like to come across?

Point #2
What is your end-goal? 

This is your chance to make a difference. Your chance to shine.  What do you want people to take from the interview?  
    Are you selling a product or trying to spread hope, maybe humor?  Try to answer in such a way that your end-goal will be achieved.  Don't come across as a sale's person or a zealot.  But think about what you can share with the world and keep that in mind when answering questions.

For example:
What would you grab if your house were on fire in the middle of the night and you could only grab one item? 

Think hard! What do you want the audience to remember about your answer--it can speak volumes. 
P.S. It's okay to think before gushing with words.

Something like, "My underwear," tells us nothing memorable--except that you sleep naked. 

Take a moment to compose yourself and say something that will accomplish your end-goal.  For example, if my interview were about my book "Homeless in Hawaii," I'd try answering accordingly, saying, "I'd grab my violin because it reminds me of everything I went through as a homeless street musician. All of the things I learned, while living on the street, made me who I am today."  That would bring the book up and give the listener something to remember in connection with the memoir.
    If I were trying to promote Hoover Vacuums, I might answer with something about my great appliance.  **But who really wants to lug a vacuum around during a fire!  Maybe a Roomba, not a Hoover.**  You get the point.  Don't lie (of course) but answer with your end-goal in mind.  
    All this to say: don't answer with random topics that have no value and aren't relevant--or worse--interesting.

But honestly, if my house were on fire--and everybody was already outside--I probably would put on a shirt.  Let's face it, I'd be saving the neighborhood from a fate worse than death.  
How selfless am I!

Point #3
Long Interview = Long Answers
Short Interview = Short Answers

If you're only being interviewed for a few minutes, keep your answers short 10-20 seconds.  If you're on for over 30 minutes, draw your answers out a bit--or the interviewer may kill you.  They're taking time, scheduling you for a long show--make it worth their time by being prepared. 

Point #4 

Keep in mind that for many interviews, you'll be given a list (or asked to provide a list) of questions before the interview actually takes place.  Practice answering the questions with a friend.  Think of how you can answer according to the interview length.  Also, remember points 1 and 2.  What do you want to convey?  

All right, you're all set.  Get 'er done and make me proud!  

If you'd like to listen to a sample of how I handled answering questions from my longest interview (and haven't already heard this broadcast) go HERE.

In closing, 
why am I writing this? 
In honor of my first ever TV Interview. Watch that HERE!

Future Posts for this Week

Friday: How to do your makeup for a TV interview.

And lastly, if you were being interviewed on TV, how would you answer the following:
Who would win a battle 
between a ninja and a pirate?  Why?


  1. Very good points. And if Johnny Depp was the pirate, he'd win hands down.

  2. That is EXACTLY what I was thinking! LOL :)

  3. LOL oh I don't know, I'm sure knowing people sleep naked would be of some use, to the peepers and the like haha

    Neither would win the battle because the pirate would make the ninja walk the plank, the ninja would do is karate stuff on the pirate, they'd both fall off the plank, right into the mouth of a shark. Shark wins they become shark poop. The end.

  4. Great post! You made a lot of good points - and of course it's extremely important to practice and be prepared.

    If the ninja was Alex Cavanough, the ninja would win because Alex is the Ninja Captain and nobody beats him!

  5. Great post. The best way to approach an interview is to put yourself in the minds of your interviewers: what would you be looking for in their places? what would turn you off in the appearance and attitude of the one you interview?

    It is also good to watch for body language cues to the mood and attitude of the interviewers as you enter and as you answer. Thanks for visiting my blog today. :-)

  6. Interviews can be so scary because you're always way ahead w/racing thoughts on the outcome....which can be wrong if you don't expect to win "them" over, and then you do!!! (at least in my head)lol! Great points and hope your TV appearance goes well!

  7. Great advice and all the best for the TV interview! This is so exciting, I can't wait to see your posting of it.

  8. Don't rub the end of your nose during a TV interview because it'll look like you're picking it--HONESTLY!!

  9. Battle between a Ninja and a Pirate - If it took place at sea the pirate and if on land the ninja. Why? Because of territorial advantage - pirate would have "sea legs" and ninja could hide better on land and thus have an advantage.

  10. I'm with Shelly. Johnny Depp is the pirate. He's the winner. I probably would grab my Roomba during a fire, assuming that the dogs are walking out with me. Are they each allowed to carry something in this scenario?


  11. Excellent tips EC. I like your advice of having a plan and then practicing--come to think of it, that can be successfully applied to most ordeals in life.

    Pirate or ninja? I am going pirate. I picture a pirate armed to the hilt distracting Mr. Ninja, while pirate's well-trained parrot attacks with stealth from above.

  12. Excellent post EC. I get jittery just reading about public speaking. Congratulations on your TV interview.

    I would have to say and Ninja could win over a pirate. From my past ninja/pirate run ins, it seems the ninjas are way more agile and stealth like. so much.