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Media Interview: Aspects which are and aren’t under your control

What aspects of a media interview are under the interviewee’s control? Which are not?

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Question asked by devnand_giri

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angel profile image
Angel Paudel

Almost all the media personals are well trained and able to steer the conversation as per their desire. So, it’s very difficult to control all the aspects of a media interview as an interviewee (Bell & Van Leeuwen, 2006). However, you can still control the message that you want to send out with the choice of words that you pick while answering the questions. Even when it’s a flat normal question, you can answer it and add more to it such that it’ll make your point out.

Further, during the interview, your body language tells a lot about you as well and that is something you can control. Making sure that you look composed and not so worried or panicked when there’s a tough question will show that you can handle the pressure well and that the company isn’t at fault (Steffensen, 2008). And, if it is, it’s always smart to apologize for it and move forward. Also, if there’s a question out of the topic that you are to discuss about or have knowledge about, don’t try to answer it forcefully - simply say that you are unaware of or don’t know about it and if it’s something that needs to be mentioned, will tell during the next encounter (Munter, 1983). This is pretty prominent during the football coach’s interview when asked about opposition player performance and as such which they don’t want to answer about, they skip that question by saying that’s not my area to talk about. A similar statement will work in such situation here as well.

Next, don’t try to be forceful. Media personals would always try to steer some drama and action. They would want you to get aggressive but getting into an argument with a journalist won’t help you put your case out. So, try to get your key message out with the very first question, don’t wait for the right question for this purpose.

There are so many other things that you can’t control in a media interview as an interviewee as well which includes especially the interpretation the meaning of the words that you say. Once spoken, those things are like something that’s set on stone and aren’t possible to change. Even if you meant something with a good intent if someone misinterprets that there’s nothing that you can do to change it. Next, the choice of the location can be something that you can’t choose for the interview along with the medium of an interview. It can be something like print, online, radio or TV interview. The interviewee doesn’t also have a control over the questions the interviewer asks.


Bell, P., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2006). The media interview . New Delhi: Anmol Publications.

Munter, M. (1983). How to Conduct a Successful Media Interview. California Management Review , 25 (4), 143-150.

Steffensen, J. (2008). Mastering the Interview: Tips from the AAA Press Office. Anthropology News , 49 (3), 30-30.

shantamilan profile image
ShantaMilan • Edited

Interviews are a form of dialogue between two people. But interview is more than just conversation between them. The interviewer asks question expecting series of answers from interviewee and models the queries in such a way that it brings out the what he want. This process can be daunting for the interviewee so there are a few things that can be done to face an interview.

First Impression

Be prepared for the interview. "Interviewers will start assessing you as soon as you arrive, so your presentation and attitude are very important. (Times, 2017)” Dress well and comfortably. Generally the first question are introduction so speak clearly, politely and make eye contact. This give off a good first impression.

Confidence and Positive

Show confidence in the work that you have applied for. Use words such as I can add value, or I am why you want to work for the organization, what makes you right for the job etc. These must be based on the job requirement. Do not speak negatively about your previous job or boss.

Stay calm and do not loose temper

Rabi Lamichhane, a journalist, interviewd Mr. Lal Bahadur Raut the head of Province two on the distorted shape of the Nepali flag at the time of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal. Mr. Raut lost his temper when he was questioned strongly where he eventually sounded aggressive and cut off the phone interview. (Nepal, 2018) This action portrayed his image negatively to all the people watching the show. He should have instead said I do not know why it happened, apologized and talked about finding what had happened so as not to repeat it in future. Simple answer yet effective.

Ask Questions

Taking an interview does not mean you cannot ask questions. If there is something you are unclear about, ask them to clarify it so your answer is correct instead of assuming and answering wrong.

Things you cannot control

  • You cannot control the environment of the interview.
  • The interviewer question and their delivery cannot be controlled.
  • You cannot control what the audience think about your responses.
  • Interviewer can be biased, which cannot be controlled.
  • These are something you can control and something that are out of your control.

Nepal, N. (2018, May 12). JANATA SANGA !! EPISODE 222 . Retrieved from YouTube: youtube.com/watch?v=VPxtWmsBLN4

Times, T. S. (2017, May 6). Tips for answering interview questions; Find out how to answer questions and present yourself well in an interview. The Southland Times . Retrieved from proxy.lirn.net/MuseProxyID=mp02/Mu...

ujjwalpoudel profile image

The interviews are generally seen with great interest and insights by the audience, especially if the interviewee is a well known figure. The interview has come to occupy a prominent place in the landscape of broadcast journalism and political communication (Clayman & Heritage, 2002). Sometimes the interviewee persuades to listen to the interview, whereas the interviewer’s profile attracts to see the interview. I personally find Bhusan Dahals’ FireSide, Dil Bhusan Pathaks’ Tough Talk, and Jib Ram Bhandaris’ Stv Chat as a strong, insightful and powerful interviewer. The questions they ask not only make people curious and aware, but also sometimes make the interviewees in a nervous nod. Therefore, thinking from the interviewee’s perspective, what media aspects can be controlled by them has been discussed below.

The ways interviewees can maintain the control is by being prepared with the most possible questions, critical questions and the key message he/she wants to deliver. Whatever the interviewer might ask, if the interviewee goes all prepared then there are very few chances of the interview going wrong. Thus interviewee must always go prepared for an interview. In the same way, as an interviewee, he/she has a choice of language to respond to questions which understandable to the audience. Here, interviewee often fined expressing difficult thing to do. The interviewee has also control over pleasant speak during the interview. Therefore, important locus of control are being prepared, forceful, signposting and apologizing.

The things that aren’t under the control of the interviewees are the nature of the questions, the technical supports and the ambiance. Interviewees have no any control over the questions to be asked in the interview. They are also unknown about the settings and the structure that the interview have set for his/her interview. For instance; Interviewers often interrupt the interviewee and throw in extra questions. In these situations, it is best to stay calm and then answer the questions in proper order, by not jumbling them (Greatbatch, 1986). Therefore, the above mentioned aspects that an interviewee can or cannot control in an interview should be focused on.


Clayman, S., & Heritage, J. (2002). The news interview: Journalists and public figures on the air. Cambridge University Press.

Greatbatch, D. (1986). Aspects of topical organization in news interviews: the use of agenda-shifting procedures by interviewees. Media, Culture & Society, 8 (4), 441-455.

dipadhungana profile image

Interview is a form of communication that generally involves questioning and answering. The interviewers ask the questions that need to be addressed by the interviewees. In case of media interview, the interviewee is generally invited as a guest in television, radio or print media (Agrawal , 2017). These days, different YouTube channels also feature interviews. The media can reach to a larger population at once that has the ability to make or break the reputation of any person. Controlling the media interview means taking the interview in our desired direction and making a point out of the conversation. Since the reporters (interviewers) of the media are well trained in taking interviews, taking control over the interview is difficult for interviewee.

However there are certain aspects that an interviewee can control. The interviewee should be careful about what and how he speaks. The selection of words and desired tone is always under the control of employee. The body language and non-verbal cues are totally under the interviewee’s control. For this, the interviewee can ask for the questions beforehand if applicable and prepare accordingly (Chilton, 2017). Similarly, researching about the media, program and targeted audience before appearing in an interview might also help in this.

The interviewee also has control over keeping the conversation to the point. There are chances that the interviewer might ask some irrelevant or out of the topic questions, the interviewee can choose not to answer those questions and remind the interviewer about the purpose of the interview. The interviewee also has control over how to present himself in the media (especially in television interviews). The interviewee should opt for suitable outfit depending on the nature of the program. Another thing that interviewee can control is accepting the mistake (Fisher, 2015). There are chances that we say something that might be offensive, undesirable or inappropriate during the time. At such times, instead of justifying the point, we can simply apologize for it and take the interview forward. The best way for an interviewee to keep the interview under control is summarizing the point at the end of the interview by emphasizing on the things he wants the audience to pay attention towards or remember.

There are certain things that the interviewee cannot control. The way the audience and interviewer can interpret the information provided has nothing to do the interviewee. There is no guarantee that the things we say mean the same to others as well. The technical and other problems that may arise during the interview like the microphone being dysfunctional and power cut are not under the interviewee’s control. The interviewee can do nothing about such interruptions in between. The media has the authority to publish or broad cast the interview on the scheduled time. So, the interviewee has no authority in adjusting the time and schedule. The questions asked in the interview are also not controllable by interviewee. Especially in case of open interview, the interviewee has no idea about the questions that will come next.

To conclude, we need to give our best in any interview so that the intended message can reach the audience. Presenting our true selves and not faking up anything is the key for effective interview.


Agrawal , P. (2017, April 17). Eight Tips To Rock Your Media Interviews . Retrieved from Forbes: forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescoun...

Chilton, G. (2017, February 28). 3 Ways to Handle That Media Interview Like a Pro . Retrieved from Enterpreneur: entrepreneur.com/article/289113

Fisher, A. (2015, November 17). 5 Ways to Control Media Interview . Retrieved from Media First: mediafirst.co.uk/our-thinking/5-wa...

ncitujjwal profile image

Doing interview is not a conversion, it is not a confession. It is the most artificial participatory activities you have even in. So you got to know that the personal interview you have most probably Google you. After Google them, you find out what types of stories they write/speak in national media, or radio, you may have similar background, look him in LinkedIn, find out what they like to write about, create some commonality and also called by a first name as an interviewer, they loved that (Chilton, 2017). Personally knowing them is very easy to face interview and those things really help to make better environment at interview time. We have to know about who is taking our interview, before giving the interview we do some research on their nature and, process. For example, we have to know about who are taking our interview either Bhusan Dahal or Rishi Dhamala. Different media persons have different qualities. If we are going for an interview without doing any research of interviewer may danger for us. We have many bad interviews scandals are like Former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba interview in Kantipur Television and Current MOIC Minister Gokul Bastakoti interview against Ram Thapa. Interviewer always be in a ready position with strong evidence so you have to defend them through evidence not to use power.

Remember that reporters are trained to control the interview process as well. We can see it every day on the news whereas veteran reporters or news anchor steers upon interview along with the narrative they want to story to flow along (Arenstein, 2016). So first you always starts your media interview to tell stories. Because stories are really interesting and powerful to deliver the message.

Drying the interview listening is the most important (Fisher, 2015), you should listen to interviewer completely then after only you can explain the message with evidence, example and case studies. You need to think, carefully about the key message you want to get across and how you can support and explain the message with examples and case studies.

Drying the interview the interviewer asks you a question that’s not directly related to the topic, you need to make a point the conversation back to your message.


Arenstein, S. (2016). 6 Tips for Giving a Great Media Interview. Sage .

Chilton, G. (2017). 3 Ways to Handle That Media Interview Like a Pro. Entrepreneur.

Fisher, A. (2015). 5 ways to control a media interview. media first (specialist in communication training) 0118 918 0530.