With 2016 presidential election campaigns in full gear and gaining momentum, more and more candidates are the subject of news stories. In fact, candidate news is often the top story in media outlets these days. Candidates and their personal lives are under intense scrutiny. Whether they are caught in an off handed comment or in the spotlight of an interview, what people will remember is how prepared they appear and how comfortable they are answering questions.
There are a few things company representatives or spokespersons can learn regarding interviews that can mean the difference between winning the reporter’s trust and respect and, well, getting on their bad side. Remember:
- Stay focused. Understand the question being asked and answer it directly; resist going on unrelated or even related tangents. Some candidates tend to get sidetracked easily and launch into personal jabs at reporters and other people if they do not like the line of questioning. This can hurt a company’s reputation and make the representative look less knowledgeable on a particular topic and more combative.
- Know what you are talking about. Have the research and the experience to back up what you say to the press. Whether it is based on an internal study or one conducted by another company, be able to readily attribute information. This helps build credibility. Interestingly, one candidate appears to know a good amount about foreign policy and might even have some solid ideas about developing better relations with foreign governments. But we may never know thanks in large part to his bombastic interview style.
- Have a proven track record. Many of the candidates running for the presidency have very little if any political experience. They have been successful in business, medicine and other areas. And they know how to be successful in those areas otherwise they could not have launched a campaign. The skills they have garnered in their respective areas have given them the confidence to believe they could lead the U.S., undoubtedly still one of the world’s superpowers when it comes to economics and military standing. There are valuable lessons in the candidates’ experiences but they are often overshadowed by grandiose presentations and caustic attitudes. Do not let your presentation overshadow your company’s or your experience and knowledge. This will turn media representatives off.
- Be confident, not cocky. Media representatives appreciate and enjoy interviewing someone who is knowledgeable and personable, not cocky. Touting your accomplishments and your achievements constantly throughout the interview is a good way to annoy the person doing the interview. It could even get you blacklisted by the reporter and perhaps other reporters. Talk more about the industry, your company and never say anything bad about another company or another person.
Whether a candidate is a front runner or in the back of the pack, the media is paying attention to their actions and their words. Same goes for company spokespersons. Whether your company is large with hundreds of employees or small, having a good interview boils down to how you present yourself as much as the information you have to present. No matter what your political affiliation, you can learn how to handle an interview and how NOT to handle one.