Preparing for a media interview

So, the hard part’s done – you’ve landed an interview with a journalist. Now you just have to sit back and take it as it comes, right?


I don’t mean to alarm you (well, I sort of do!) but there are countless things that can go wrong on the big day:

–       the journalist could stump you with a hairy question;

–       something could happen in the outside world that negatively affects your business or the perception of your business (e.g. you own a paper business and on the day of the interview a report is released condemning Australians for using too much paper); or

–       you could turn up under the impression that the interview is pre-recorded, only to discover that it’s live (and you look like something the cat’s dragged in).

These are just a few examples of things that can go wrong for a small business owner when being interviewed.

There are many things you can’t control in an interview. This makes controlling what you can all the more important.

In order to prepare for the interview, you need to find out as much as you can. In your own words in your conversation with the journalist ask the following questions.


  1. “Where are you calling from
  2. “When is your deadline?”
  3. “When would you like to do the interview?”
  4. “What is the topic of the story and what aspects of my experience/business/expertise/story do you want to know about?”
  5. “Is someone else also being interviewed for the piece?”
  6. “Is it live or pre-recorded (for radio or television)?”


If you’re lucky the journalist might give you an overview of questions they plan to ask, but this is very unlikely.

Finally, it’s important to let the journalist know in advance if there are issues that you don’t feel comfortable discussing and are not essential to the subject of the interview if you suspect they will be brought up. This is particularly relevant if you are talking about personal matters or confidential information. This could save you face on the day, and give you some control over what direction the interview goes in.

Once you have asked your questions and clarified any potential issues, you can use that additional knowledge to thoroughly prepare for your interview.

We’ll cover some of the next interview preparation steps in a future post, so if you have any questions make sure you ask them in the comments section so we can address them in an upcoming article.

What’s your favourite interview horror story, and could it have avoided it by asking any of the above questions?

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