My blown interview
February 6th, 2009
I had an interview today with Bloomberg News. It was a live feed, a type of interview I have never before experienced. It didn’t go very well. I blew it.
I thought that I was prepared. I dressed the part. I arrived early. I had been given instructions by my media relations manager. I had a list of possible questions. I had prepared answers in my mind.
That’s where things went wrong.
For the live feed, I entered a dark room with very bright lights shining on a lone black chair in front of a very wide screen tv panel (not the friendliest scene!). A cameraman directed me to put a earpiece in my ear, place the wire microphone on my jacket lapel and sit down. As I sat in the chair, I could not see the tv camera and had trouble figuring out where to direct my eyesight. I could hear the live television show featuring an interview with Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. With 10 minutes to go, the producer, Jonah, introduced himself through the earpiece and I asked him what questions they wanted to me answer. He said “We’re interested in what you are doing at Stanford to help your students in this job market.”
I spent the next 5 minutes pondering my answer to that question. The news anchor, Deidre Bolton, introduced herself to me. She soon launched into the segment. Her first question had nothing to do with Jonah’s topic or any of the questions I had prepared. I was caught so off guard that I didn’t know what to say. ON LIVE TV!
I bumbled through the first question and launched into my prepared remarks. Deidre actually tried to stop me, but then let me finish. Since I couldn’t see her, I wondered if she was making grimacing at my answers. My head was spinning. I was shaking inside. Did I say ON LIVE TV?
I took a deep breath and listened to her next question. Yes! I can answer that one. And the next one. Just as I was starting to groove, it was over.
I learned a few things today:
- Practice my answers in the mirror and say them out loud. Rehearsing them in my head wasn’t sufficient.
- Listen attentively to the question and remain in the present. I was so committed to what I wanted to say that I wasn’t ready for, nor did I listen closely to, Deidre’s first question.
- If the environment isn’t comfortable, try to adjust it. When I couldn’t see the camera, I should have asked the cameraman about it. I spoke with him afterwards and he said “Oh, I would have put a piece of white tape on the camera for you to focus on – if you had said something.” Doh!
I can’t wait to do it again. Seriously.
What have you learned from your blown interviews?