Through my experience in interviews from local radio stations all the way up to nationally televised interviews on shows like Late Night with David Letterman and international Olympic coverage, I’ve learned to hone my skills in challenging question and answer sessions. I was far from a natural when I started out, but just as with my Olympic training, I worked hard to reach professional levels. My personal experience taught me a great deal about mistakes that can be made and secrets to building big improvements.
I’d like to offer some insight into the process that helped me be invited back to the Today Show four times. I’ve developed a number of practice tips and activities that will help you sharpen your own skills for job interviews, televised interviews, radio interviews, Q&A panels, and business interactions. There is nothing that replaces practice and experience, so these activities will help prepare you to walk into any interview with a much needed confidence.
To gain the most of each of the activities, I highly suggest videotaping each practice session and take notes so you can remember what areas you can improve.
Practice Tips and Activities
1. There are a number of different interview settings you may encounter and it’s essential to see and know how to respond in every scenario. Do one interview with a friend or colleague where you speak to this one individual. Then answer the questions in front of 5-10 friends or colleagues. And finally answer the same questions speaking straight to the camera. Notice how each can take on a different tone, but try to keep up the trust and likeability you portray in each scenario.
2. No matter what the interview, the most common question is in reference to you and your personal traits. Practice describing yourself with language and tones that come across as confident but not cocky. Make sure you know your strengths and key characteristics you’d like your audience to know about you. Lastly, ask the practice interviewer if he or she thought your answer was believable.
3. Ask a friend to put three random topics in a hat.