I interview a lot of people for my startup, UberStories, in which I cover tech startups and their founders in the Washington, DC, and Baltimore metro areas. Before UberStories, I was the editor and a writer at Tech Cocktail, where I also conducted my fair share of interviews (and watched interviews being filmed live).
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past 2 ½ years, it’s that there are a few basic rules for both giving and getting a great interview.
Whether you are being interviewed live on the radio, on stage at an event or for an article or blog post, here are some basic rules on being a great interviewee:
1. Avoid distractions
To give coherent, thoughtful answers, avoid all distractions. If you are doing a phone interview, walk away from your computer and turn your smartphone upside down. If you’re doing an in-person interview, look at the interviewer and listen to them instead of checking out the audience.
2. Define your value proposition
If you are being interviewed about your company, make sure you have a clearly defined value proposition memorized. Bonus points if it’s short and makes sense (you’d be surprised how many can be meaningless).
3. Write out solid talking points
Generally speaking, you’ll know what subjects and topics you’ll cover during an interview, so the night before, write out the points you’d like to make – product or service benefits, user statistics, industry statistics, or case studies.
4. Answer the question
Don’t follow the examples of politicians, who rarely answer questions in a straightforward way and instead talk about what they would rather talk about. No spin. Just answer the question you’re being asked. Your interviewer will be thankful.
5. Don’t repeat yourself
This is actually one of the reasons you should write down talking points – to avoid repeating yourself. Make your point and move on. No need to say it 3 times, as your interviewer is likely smart and gets it, a fast typist, and/or recording the interview.
6. Give succinct answers
I conducted a phone interview today that took twice as long as I anticipated because the interviewee was a big talker. Be mindful of your interviewer’s time. If they want you to elaborate, they’ll ask you to.
In my next blog post, I’ll cover 6 basic rules for getting a great interview. Til then, what other tips do you have for being a good interviewee?
Image courtesy of thatliterarylady.com