How to prepare for an interview
Finding the right words to say in an TV interview can be difficult, particularly when you’re trying to get an important message across. Sometimes, this can distract a person so much they forget about how they’re physically portraying themselves, including body language.
How to give an interview
It’s very common to be nervous before a television interview, particularly if this is your first. As well as working on your body language, there are other factors you can focus on to boost your confidence, such as your appearance.
A few additional things you can do to prepare for an interview include:
Do your research
When preparing for your interview, do some research on the journalist you’ll be working with and of course, research the topic you’ll be discussing as much as possible. Not only will this help you gain an extensive understanding of the topic, it will also make sure you’re prepared to answer any questions the journalist may ask.
Researching the journalist on the other hand will help you understand the style in which they prefer to conduct interviews, what interests them and what statements they might be looking for.
Remember your location
While most interviews typically take place in a studio, some journalists may request for the interview to be in a different location, so it’s important to agree on an appropriate place. Make sure to consider the backdrop and visuals which can help tell your story or get your message across. For example, if you’re discussing school zones, consider filming near a school crossing.
Choose your outfit carefully
Choosing appropriate clothing for an interview is always crucial. Not only do you need to send the right message to viewers, you also need to dress for the occasion. If you’re filming outside on a windy day, wear warm and protective clothing so you won’t be shivering during the interview, and if you’re being interviewed in a studio, make sure you don’t wear any items of clothing that will match green or blue screens.
It’s also imperative to dress for your audience. If you’re representing a non-for-profit organisation, wear casual clothing (this will be even better if it has a logo on it which can be easily seen).
Lastly, it’s always better to keep it simple. Wearing simple clothing, such as a well-cut styled jacket, will always make you look more professional. It’s best to avoid wearing patterns and instead wear a solid colour. Find clothes you feel comfortable in to help you look at ease and more confident when you’re being interviewed.
Importance of body language in interviews
Similar to a job interview, body language in television interviews is extremely important as it contributes to your overall impression. An audience will immediately, and even sometimes unintentionally, make a conclusion about you because of the way you appear and the way you deliver your message – hand gestures or facial expressions go a long way to influencing what others think about you.
If you seem fidgety and nervous, it can make audiences perceive you as unprofessional or even unprepared. This applies to everyone: from executives through to members of the public randomly asked for their opinion.
Common body language mistakes
More often than not, mistakes made during interviews are a result of overthinking or being unaware of our actions. Typical examples of this include:
Though it’s important to smile during an interview, forcing a smile can sometimes be worse. Try not to overthink it as forcing a smile during an interview will come across as inauthentic. With this being said, not smiling at all can also make you seem cold, disengaged or disconnected.
This is why it’s imperative to maintain a good ‘smile balance’. An effective way to do this is to simply smile when it feels natural, or to make your expression match your words. If talking about something positive, smile. If talking about something serious, maintain a neutral expression.
Nodding your head too much
A very common mistake by interviewees is nodding your head too much. While most do this to indicate they understand or are ready to answer the question, it can come off as you unintentionally agreeing to the question’s premise. Simply be aware of your reactions or remain neutral until you begin to speak.
Tips to improve your interview body language
Trying to improve your interview body language all at once can be overwhelming. Following a few simple, yet helpful tips can be a more efficient approach. Examples of the best body language for an interview include:
Maintain eye contact
Possibly the most important thing to remember is to maintain eye contact. If you begin to look around, whether it be at the floor, a wall or even at your hands, this can come off as suspicious and make you seem uncomfortable even if you’re not. Try to keep eye contact as much as possible, while also not being too intense.
Keep a good posture
Many people tend to accidentally slouch while being interviewed, which can look messy on camera and is like to make you, as the interviewee, withdraw from the topic you’re discussing.
Remember to stand tall and straight to assert yourself and your power. Even if you’re feeling nervous, try faking confidence as this will help you sound even more self-assured. Good posture will also result in clear projection of your voice. If in a chair, ensure you don’t swivel from side-to-side.
Keep your feet together
Not only will standing still in one spot make you seem less nervous, it’s necessary for the cameraman to secure the perfect footage with you in the frame.
To achieve this, the crew will often mark, or indicate, where on the floor they’d like you to stand. Try to keep your feet planted, pointing in the direction the crew asks. This will usually be looking towards the journalist, not the camera.
Steer clear of defensive poses
Defensive poses are particularly bad during television interviews as they show you may have something to hide, even if you don’t. These poses can include crossing your arms, which some people tend to do unconsciously.
Instead, try to place your hands at your sides or clasped together in front of you.
Keep in control of your hand gestures
As gesturing with your hands is second nature to some, it can be hard to control your movements as you’re speaking – especially as they’re expressive and can help to put your message across. With this being said, moving your hands too much or fidgeting can redirect the audience’s attention away from what you’re saying.
Try starting the interview with your hands clasped together in front of you to minimise fidgeting while still feeling secure.
Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to rehearse your upcoming interview either in front of your friends, family or a mirror. As well as this, recording yourself answering mock interview questions can be beneficial as you will be able to look back at your reactions, body language and facial expressions.
This will also allow you to test yourself on questions from the viewer’s perspective: ‘Do I look interested?’ and ‘Would I keep watching this interview if I were flipping channels?’.
Remember, while interviews can be intimidating, they’re a wonderful opportunity to get you and your brand out there!