Simple steps to avoid a car-crash interview

There have been many convoluted interviews over Brexit, but this probably takes the biscuit. The newly-appointed Labour candidate for North of Tyne mayor – basically the Newcastle and Northumberland area – was asked about his views on leaving the EU, particularly topical in the north-east after Nissan’s decision to junk plans to build its new model in nearby Sunderland. Interviewed by ITV Tyne-Tees, he refused to say if he was pro or anti. Instead, attempting to sit on several fences at once, he blustered that ‘what we need is a ‘Brexit that will deliver’ while in the same sentence saying we need ‘a choice over whether we’re going to have a Brexit’, but then arguing that another referendum is ‘not necessarily’ a good idea. He looked foolish and confused – even for a politician.

The mistake many people make when going into an interview is just to think what their ‘key messages’ are – in this case it ws Mr Driscoll’s agenda as Mayoral candidate. This is part of your preparation, but you’ve also got to think realistically about what other hot topics might be on the interviewer’s agenda. These might not be what you really want to talk about, but they might be seen as relevant or current so far as the audience is concerned; Brexit clearly falls into this category. So to avoid looking stupid you have to think what your responses would be, if any of these actually do come up. In other words think about what for you are the ‘questions from hell’, and work through how you would manage them, just in case – this is one of the key areas where we help participants on our media training courses. Once you have identified the best ways to deal with these topics, run through all your points again out loud, so you are comfortable with the form of words that works best, and you are not hesitating or stumbling through your answer in the interview itself.

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