Dealing with a Less-than-smart Interviewer

If you’ve ever listened to local radio you’ll know that interviewers are not always as well informed as ideally you’d like them to be.  But inappropriate questions that betray a deep ignorance of the subject can crop up on mainstream radio and TV programmes too. Often they throw interviewees into panic – so how should you respond?  Firstly, don’t draw attention to the presenter’s ignorance – that increases the embarrassment factor and won’t make either of you look very good.  So, instead, take the conversation somewhere useful. Try answering the question you think he or she meant to ask, ideally rephrasing it to make sense, as in “well I think you’re getting at the whole issue of X, and what we plan to do about it.  What I’d say on that is ….”    Or if you really have no idea what the interviewer is on about  don’t waste time asking them to re-phrase it, especially if they seem to be struggling.  Better to move on to a more productive angle which you’d like to draw attention to, such as “well I’m not sure what you’re getting at, but I think the key issue here is X – we’ve always made it very clear that …” and so on.  If they want to come back to the original point, they can always try again with a smarter, re-framed question.