Even in benign circumstances, a journalist’s job is to challenge what you say — it’s not personal, it’s a role designed to tease out information and comment. They’ll often play Devil’s Advocate.
The best advice ahead of any interview is to do the following three things: prepare, prepare and prepare.
However, if you are making a statement that is perhaps controversial or has potential negatives aspects, you’ve got to expect hostile questioning.
If it happens the worst thing to do is be rude or aggressive, even if an interviewer who is rude and aggressive is bating you. Do not get into an argument.
Try to remember these simple points:
- Stay calm.
- Concentrate on positive aspects of your message.
- Don’t re-state the opposing view in your answer.
- Don’t be defensive.
- If they try to cut you off you need to finish your point.
- Don’t just answer yes or no. Flesh out your answers.
- If the question is far from the subject matter and irrelevant but provocative, take control:
- ‘That’s not what we are discussing here.’ Bring the subject back to what you want to talk about, ‘what is important is.’
- Don’t argue with the interviewer but don’t accept the premise of the question in your answer. ‘The real question/point is…’
- Don’t lose your temper — count to three if you need to.
- Never walk, flounce or run out. It doesn’t look good.
Finally, if the interviewer says something that is inaccurate or unfair, don’t let it pass. You have to assert your point of view, correct any mistakes and don’t let any false assumptions stand.