Interviewalley's Blog

February 9, 2010

Sarah Palin’s Interview – What Went Wrong?

Filed under: Uncategorized — interviewalley @ 4:14 pm

Everybody remembers that first interview that Sarah Palin had with ABC’s Anchor, Mr. Gibson.  Many viewers were embarassed by Ms. Palin’s political naivety and her lack of history past and present.  However, the point of this interview is to highlight what went wrong during the interview so that you, the reader, may learn how to conduct your first political interview without suffering the consequences that Ms. Palin suffered.

As you’re probably aware of, there are two sides to every interview, the Interviewer and the Interviewee.  When I researched Sarah Palin’s transcript for that first interview, I learned a few things that weren’t mentioned or aired that first time with Mr. Gibson. 

Editing is a powerful tool that’s often left to the discretion of the Interviewer and the organization or company he’s representing.  When guests do audio or video interviews, the temptation is there for the Interviewer to go back and take out those parts of the interview that they feel aren’t note worthy or worse, change the tone, attitude, and feel of the interview.  What do I mean by Feel?  Attitude?  Tone?

According to the information I researched, it’s implied that the interview with Sarah Palin was edited to make her look worse rather than good.  Key words, phrases and entire sentences were left out so that Mr. Gibson and his employer could manipulate the interview to their advantage.

When and if this happens to you here are some suggestions that might turn that interview around for you.
Check out the Interviewer’s tone.  An Interviewer’s tone conveys a person’s audio language.  Like body language, the tone of an Interviewer can impart seriousness, looking down upon, humor, anger, questioning, to name a few.  In Mr. Gibson’s tone, he suggested a seriousness coupled with talking down to Ms. Palin. 
An Interview also controls how the interview is going, where the interview is going by the types of questions asked, and how the inner conviction or belief that the Interviewee knows what they’re talking about.  Feel, Tone, Attitude. 

Check and see whether the Interviewer was hand-picked to interview you.  Mr. Gibson was hand-picked to interview Sarah Palin.  That’s fine.  Larry King interviews celebrities and well-known persons as well.  However, make sure that the person who does interview you does his homework.  They should pick up the phone and introduce themselves to you.  They should request a bio, resume, articles you’ve might have written.  In other words, they should get to know you, what you represent, where you stand, etc.   A good Interviewer doesn’t do interviews on the sly.  They need information to make their questions count and to ask the right questions.

For your part, the Interviewee should come prepared to any and all interviews.  You should find out a little bit about the Interviewer.  Listen to previous podcasts, tapes, or view videos.  Study how these Interviewers ask their questions.  Are they current with political, economic, and/or social culture?  What about the Interviewer’s style.  Do they use Attack questions?  Do they target your expertise or do they wander a bit.  Do these Interviewers have a Game Plan which includes you the Interviewee or will they toot their own horn?.

That’s your first step.  Your second step.  If you’re nervous while speaking publically, sit down and think about what you want your audience to learn from you and about you.  Plan how you want to Deliver the answers to the questions asked. 

When I was in college, passing exams were next to impossible.  I never knew what to study or what to memorize.  A college professor finally pulled me aside one day, and told me what I needed to study.  It was the questions at the book of each chapter.  If I did that with all of my courses, chances were I would pass. 
Funny thing, the professor was right.  My exam scores went up to C’s and an occasional B.

The purpose of this story is to ask the Interviewer to send you a list of ten or twenty questions that they might ask you.  That way, you can do your homework or research and prepare the answers ahead of time.  That way, you’ll sound like you know what you’re talking about.  You’ll come off as an expert or at least, someone who took the time to prepare for this upcoming interview.

The third step is all important.  Practice!  Practice!  Practice!  If you’re a nervous type (I am), I practice in front of the mirror asking myself questions.  Grab your spouse or kids or good friends.  Have them sit and then ask them to ask questions.  Use a recorder to record how you answer their questions.  Listen to your voice tone.  Does it sound convincing or hesitant?  Listen to your words?  Are they convincing or weak?
Listen to how you answer their questions?  Defensive?  Knowledgable?  Positive? Angry?  If you’re using video, take a look at your  Body Language.  What are you saying?  Are you looking straight at the Interviewer and not at the camera?  Are you smiling?  What are your hands doing?  Clasped in your lap or waving in the breeze?  Are your legs crossed in that short skirt?  As an Interviewee, you must be aware of your Voice and Body at all times.  Are you dressed appropriately for that interview?

Make sure you understand the type of Interview that you’re going to participate in.  There are all types of interviews.  Where they begin, lead to and end does determine whether your listening audience shows a future interest in you or not. 

Things to do before the interview are: homework and research, proper attire, 3 by 5 cards with key phrases written down, practice answering, and enunciate your words.

Things do to during the interview are: speak clearly and slowly, think before you speak, keep your voice even, watch your language (keep out you know, like uhm, ahh, and, the current slang like “shut up.”), keep your answers brief and to the point, and stay in control of the interview.

I’m not sure how prepared Sarah Palin was for her first interview.  I only know by what I saw on the television set.  After that interview, I wasn’t impressed with her performance.  However when I read the entire transcript of her interview, I realized that Ms. Palin did deliver a good interview IF that original transcript was shown in its entirety.

You, too, can deliver a good interview whether it’s political, economic, writing, or music.  However understand this because of a poor interview with Mr. Gibson, the residue of that media interview haunted Ms. Palin throughout the entire election.  Interviews are a matter of life and death.  Delivered the wrong way, an interview can change a viewer’s or listener’s perception of that particular person and what they stand for.

The next time you’re asked for an interview, remember this golden rule.  “Come Prepared!” 

Tomorrow’s column will discuss employment interviews with the Administrative side of work: secretaries, receptionists, clerks, and those people whom organizations, foundations, and companies depend upon to get the work out in a professional manner.


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