Mastering the Television Interview

Television interviews are probably among the most difficult type of interview you can have. Not only do you need to know your stuff (which of course you already do) but you need to look good when talking about it. This holds true for any interview in front of an audience including a presentation or podcast. We’ve all seen it. The guy who doesn’t know whether to look at the reporter or the camera. The woman with the gigantic dangly earrings that seem to have a mind of their own.  The executive who can’t sit still in his chair. The government official who continues to nod her head while being asked about bad news surrounding her department. None of it is good. And all of it can be addressed fairly easily. Where to look While most spokesperson trainers will remind you that you aren’t having a conversation, it really needs to appear as if you are. You should look at the reporter when answering questions. Avoid unnecessary movement Sometimes it’s nerves. Sometimes you simply mean to convey you are paying attention. Whatever the case, work to avoid shifting around in the chair or bouncing around on your feet. Your body language should suggest that you are interested in the reporter’s questions so there is no need to nod your head either. There’s nothing more disconcerting than when a reporter is asking about something difficult and the person being interviewed is nodding his head as if to acknowledge culpability. What to wear is a legitimate concern What you wear for a television interview really does matter. You are sending subliminal messages by how you are dressed. Disheveled and dirty? You look like you don’t care much about talking with the news outlet. Dressed like you are going to the opera? You may appear out of touch. Too many patterns? Too much make-up? Don’t even go there. Men should wear conservative clothing. If you normally wear a suit and tie, wear a suit and tie. If you wear a uniform or something more “business casual,” wear that for your interview. Blues, grays and other subdued colors are best. Women should also carefully consider their outfits. The same holds true in that if you usually wear a suit or dress with heels, then that’s what you should wear. Casual clothing should be in good repair. Women actually can wear a wider range of colors without issue but be careful about patterns as they can be hard to light. Accessories should be limited and generally, it is best if they are fairly conventional. The key for both genders is to look natural and not wear anything that will distract from the important information you are sharing. If you are interested in learning more about the dos and don’ts of television interviews, contact us at