The amount of broadcast news we can access, has grown a lot during the last few years. We see new channels, 24-hour rolling news and digital news platforms. This means that the media is always looking for new content.

If people from your organisation are seen as experts and give interviews to the media, it can increase your public profile. It can help raise awareness of the work you do and may attract partners.


  • Three reasons to give an interview to the media
  • The formats that interviews can take
  • How to get your message across
  • Staying within your comfort zone
  • Interview tricks to watch out for

Read time:

13 mins

Chapter 1

Why do an interview?

Read time:

2 mins

What are your objectives?

The idea of having to give an interview may be quite daunting. Start with set of clear objectives. These give you a focus and can really help you to get points across with a calm and friendly manner.

You should have a clear message that you put over during the interview. Without this, the viewer or listener will not grasp the importance of what you have said.


3 reasons to participate in media interviews:

  • You may want to explain - This could be to do with your organisation, a service, or an issue etc.
  • You may need to rebut - You may need to challenge or correct something that has been published or you may want to give a different perspective
  • You may want to promote - This could be to raise awareness about an event, activity, new product, or service


Being a credible interviewee

If you cannot see a chance to explain, rebut or promote in an interview, it may not be the right thing to do now.

An interview allows you to show your credibility. You will have the chance to give evidence to the audience to show why you are qualified to be the expert.


3 elements that build trust in you in an interview:

  1. Say who you are and what you do
  2. Explain your experience and expertise in this area
  3. Show evidence of your passion for the topic through your language and body language

Chapter 2

Types of interviews

Read time:

3 mins

Focus on the interview format

If you think an interview is the right thing for you to do, consider the format of it. This will help you to prepare well.


Examples of broadcast interview formats (TV and radio):

  • One-to-one studio interview - This format is often used on breakfast TV shows. Guests may join presenters 'on the sofa' or through a remote link. It can be used for a live interview and may have a few guests
  • One-to-one location interview - This format can be used if a place adds context to the story. Teachers may be shown in a school. Doctors and nurses outside of a hospital. An interview can be less stressful in place you're familiar with. But, it may be difficult, at times, to arrange an outside broadcast crew
  • Online interview - A person is interviewed from their office or home through an internet link. This format has become common since the onset of COVID-19. But, these links can suffer from technical issues. We'll cover more tips on how to conduct a productive online interview in chapter 5
  • Telephone interview - This format can be used for live interviews from the site of an incident. It may use the video link from a mobile phone. Interviewees can use notes to help them get their message across. But it's still important to think about body language and tone of voice even if you can't be seen
  • Media briefing - This is less likely to be a format used for broadcast purposes. It gives the chance to informally update media. Because there's no such thing as 'off the record', you still need to treat a briefing as an interview
  • Media conference - This format is often used for a major news story. It is a very good way to give the same message to many media outlets at the same time. After an interviewee has read out a statement, journalists can ask one or two questions each
  • Radio day - When a story is of interest to a few areas, a radio day could be a good way to get your message out. For this format, you would be interviewed, in a studio, by local radio stations, back-to-back. Each interview would be tailored to an area. This may take a few hours to complete
  • Door-stopping - This is the last resort for journalists. If they cannot get the interview they need, they may wait outside a home or office to get a reaction or quote. You may have seen this with celebrities or politicians who are in the news. This format would not be used if they get the answers to media enquiries through normal routes

Chapter 3

How to deliver your message

Read time:

3 mins

Develop your key messages

Journalists may not tell you what questions they plan to ask you beforehand, but it is worth asking. It will help you prepare.

The way you are seen in an interview is not only based on what you say, but how you say it. Good interview preparation will help. It should be focused on your key messages. But, it's also about how you will deliver those messages.


It's not what you say!

How can we get our messages across well? There are some good clues come from the work of Professor Albert Mehrabian. The principle, from his work is - how you say something is as important as what you say. This is very important when giving interviews.

The way you perform in interviews improves with practice. Try it with a colleague, friend, or family member. Record the session so you can see how you look and sound.


6 elements of delivering your message:

  1. Speed and tone of voice - Are you speaking too quickly or too slowly? Do you pause for breath and for impact? Is the tone of your voice appropriate for the topic you're discussing? Watch other people being interviewed so you can see what is most effective
  2. Humour - We don't all like the same jokes. There is a risk that humour (or sarcasm) in an interview can fall flat or offend people. We would advise against using it
  3. Repetition - People remember things that are repeated. Consider telling them what you plan to say, saying it, then summarising it at the end. This can also keep you focused on your key messages rather than going off script
  4. Language and jargon - If you use jargon or abbreviations, it may make it hard to get the meaning or follow what you are saying. Simplify what you say so that you can be easily understood
  5. Ensure you include your key message(s) - The questions you are asked in an interview, may not give a clear link to the message to want to say. Always think about ways to work your messages into your answers
  6. Body language - You will look more natural and relaxed if you move a little in an interview. But, be careful not to distract them with too much hand waving or nodding etc. Think about the way you are standing or sitting. Does it look attentive and professional?

Chapter 4

Key messages and comfort zone

Read time:

2 mins

Focus on your messages

For media interviews the rule of three is particularly helpful. Both you and your audience may struggle to remember more than three messages.

Your narrative in an interview should be shaped by your messages. When your answers are focused on these, you will feel more confident, and in control, than if you go off topic.

Remember, you can enhance your messages with proof points. The facts and figures that support what you are saying. You could also give case studies or anecdotes to add more colour. But, stay focused on your key messages. Use these to set the boundaries of your interview.


Staying on topic

If you're asked about something that you don't feel confident about, you don't have to answer the question. You are better off saying, 'I'm sorry, but that's not something that I'm able to answer. What I can tell you about is...'.

That is much better than trying to answer and getting the facts wrong. Using a bridging statement, as in that example, will help bring you back to your comfort zone.

Chapter 5

Interview tips and tricks

Read time:

3 mins

Journalist's tricks and techniques

  • Silence - If a journalist stays silent after you've answered their question, it is natural for you to want to say more. There is a danger of going off message or rambling. Silence doesn't make for good TV or radio. Once you've answered the question, hold your nerve, they will ask another question
  • Confrontation - Interviews can be more engaging when they give both sides of a topic. The journalist, or even another guest, may give other views. They may try to provoke you or discredit your points. Try to stay focused on your messages, this will help you to remain calm
  • Paraphrasing - Your answers may be repeated back in a way that changes the meaning. Don't allow your answer to be changed. Pay attention and politely correct them if needed
  • Lulling - Journalists have a job to do. They may be friendly, but don't get lulled into a false sense of security. Stay on guard, pay attention to what's being said, and stick to your messages only
  • Interrupting - Try not to be rattled by interruptions. Stay calm and focus on getting your point across. If required, ask the journalist to clarify their question


Considerations for online interviews

  • Lighting - Try to have light in front of your face, not behind your head. Consider getting a ring lamp and position it behind your laptop camera
  • Background - Good backgrounds have depth and interest. It may be bookshelves, plants, or artwork. They will not distract the viewer or be too plain
  • Hair, makeup and clothing - Make sure that you are dressed, and with hair and makeup as appropriate
  • Noise control - Try to conduct the interview in a quiet room. Noise from your family, pets or builders can disrupt the chance to get your message out. A sign that says, 'Quiet Please - Interview in Progress' may help. A headset and microphone may help screen out any ambient noise. Remember to unmute yourself before talking!
  • Wi-Fi connection - You need a strong and stable signal for interviews. Any issues could degrade the interview or cause it to be stopped. Using a direct cable from your computer to your router may help
  • Looking at camera - Your camera should be at eye level. A stand, or even a pile of books, can be used to raise your computer. Try to look at the camera, rather than your screen. This will be more engaging for the audience
  • Distractions - Children or pets can distract you and the viewer in interviews. Journalists and audiences have become more used to these issues now. But, there's a danger your message will not get across. The distraction could become the story. Try to find a quiet space where you can focus and be distraction free


Good luck

The best thing you can do before any interview is to prepare in advance.

Confidence will come from knowing who is interviewing you, in what format, and what the questions or challenges may be. Work out three key messages and practice what you are going to say and how you are going to say them.


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 20th December 2023.