Giving a great interview

No matter what type of media you’re dealing with, the interview is your moment to shine.

Good preparation and confidence are the keys to a successful interview. Take some time beforehand to think about questions that may come up — especially tough ones — and how you will answer them.

If you are put on the spot by a journalist calling out of the blue, you don’t have to do the interview right away. Even on a tight deadline, it’s OK to ask the reporter to ring back in 15 minutes so you’ll have time to work out what you want to say, check facts and make notes. If they want to interview you about a report or study you haven’t seen yet, ask for enough time to read it through and get your thoughts in order.

“There’s no point in writing about something – even the most brilliant, innovative breakthrough – if no one reads it. We need to present the story in a way that’s eye-catching, innovative and draws in the reader. You can do that with colour and spark while still staying true to the facts.”
Joanna Wane, Deputy Editor, North & South magazine

Interview dos and don’ts

Keep your answers brief and conversational. Speak slowly and try to avoid ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’.

Stop when you have answered the questions, don’t ramble on. It’s the interviewer’s job to keep the conversation flowing, not yours.

Be prepared, but don’t script answers – that will sound stilted and unnatural.

Don’t use jargon or overly exact numbers.

Do use interesting analogies and examples.

If you don’t feel comfortable answering a question, say so but then return to one of your main points. For example: “I don’t have that information at hand, but what I can tell you is…”

TV interviews 

  • Be well dressed and don’t wear anything that could prove distracting such as loud ties or dangly earrings.
  • Relax and don’t fidget.
  • Look at the interviewer, not the camera – they represent your audience.
  • Where appropriate, be expressive about your science. Convey your passion, excitement, disappointment or frustration.

PREPARING YOUR MESSAGE | EXPLAINING YOUR SCIENCE | CONTENTIOUS ISSUES

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