Interview Tips Before, During and After

Before the Interview:

  • Do your homework
  • Anticipate tough questions – you know what they might be
  • Stay informed - think about how to link what you are doing to current trends or news
  • If possible, make contact with the reporter ahead of time – send information about your organization or program.
  • Know what the reporter is interested in – read stories they have written, watch for bylines
  • Provide “deep background” if necessary (institutional history)
  • Rehearse

During the interview:

  • Keep it local, but link local information/impact with national news.
  • Avoid acronyms and “institutional” jargon - the general public does not speak “our” language.
  • If it is radio, take notes as you go so you can remember to respond to things said.
  • Remember – with radio you are speaking to every listener – in waiting rooms, in living rooms, in kitchens and in cars.
  • Tell the story, over and over, but in different ways.
  • Never say “no comment”.
  • Imagine who the listening/reading audience is – speak to them.
  • If you are asked a question and you don’t know the answer, say so.
  • If you can, provide the interviewer and the listener resources to find the answer. If it is a print interview – tell them you will find the answer and get back to them prior to their deadline. And do.
  • Listen to your own voice – use conversational tones. Modulate.
  • Pause for effect – it makes people listen to what follows.
  • Be aware of “ums” and “ahs”, silence is better.
  • If it is electronic media, don’t fidget. It is distracting for an interviewer.
  • Nothing is ever “off the record”.
  • If you are asked a question that includes negative language - do not repeat it.
  • Personalize your response when you can – use examples of impact on real people.
  • Utilize restraint – short answers are better, safer and more effective. Use whole sentences.
  • If you don’t fully understand the question, ask for clarification.
  • Use facts to counter misperceptions or misstatements – don’t become impatient.
  • Remember you are the expert – that’s why they are talking to you!
  • Make the opportunity count!

After the Interview

  • Leave them with contact information and supporting data.
  • Write a handwritten, personal thank you note as soon as you get back to your office.
  • Let them know you are happy to serve as a resource in the future, even if it is just to lead them in the right direction on a related subject. Share the spotlight, don’t be a news-hog. You will be rewarded by being a resource in the future.
  • After the interview airs or is in print – write a note to tell them what a positive impact it had.  Again, use stories about people if possible.
  • Pay attention to the reporter/cultivate the relationship.

Thanks, in part, to Covering Kids, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Stay In Touch

Follow us on the following social networks to ensure that you are always up to date!


Tell us how we're doing:

Additional Opportunities

Additional opportunities to serve include:

Corporation for National and Community Service | Contact Us | Security and Privacy
Accessibility | FOIA | No Fear Act | Site Notices | Federal Register Notices |
This is an official website of the U.S. Government