August 12, 2012

Tips on Getting Interviewed By A Journalist

reporter's notebookby Promod Sharma, CC

I used to dread getting interviewed because I like to think before speaking. Weird, huh? Thanks to Table Topics and giving interactive presentations, I’ve learned to think much faster in impromptu situations.

Here are tips for when a professional journalist wants to interview you.


Look up the writer online. Read recent articles. Follow on Twitter. If you're being interviewed for a specific column, get familiar with the format.

Last week, I was interviewed by Larry MacDonald for the Me and My Money column in a major paper, The Globe and Mail. I read previous articles to see what other interviewees said. Would I have something fresh to say or echo what others already said?


Your interviewer may send you the questions in advance. You can then prepare written answers or practice for a phone interview.


To ensure accuracy, your interviewer may send you a draft of the entire article or your portions. You are not the editor. You are not being asked to make changes even if you now have other things to say. 

The writer has deadlines and probably won't appreciate nontrivial revisions. Pay attention to what you're being asked to do. Do only that. Afterwards, you can share your new ideas, which might lead to another column.

The draft may not look exactly the way you want. You are not the target audience. You can say more elsewhere. I usually write a blog post.

An Example
When you prepare a speech, you’ve got time constraints. That limits what you can say. The Me and My Money column has a strict word count. During the interview and in email exchanges, I provided more information than appeared in the final article. This gave Larry more details, which (I think) helped to improve the column.

I would have written a different article but mine would not have been as good: I lack objectivity and experience in journalism.


Journalists have deadlines. I did everything according to (and slightly ahead of) the schedule. Cooperating helps increase the chances of getting interviewed again.

Say Thanks

Getting interviewed is not a right. Be thankful. The best way is to see what would help the writer. Attention can't hurt. I featured Larry in a blog post about the interview and included his contact info at the bottom. I was already following him on Twitter. We're now connected on LinkedIn too. I'll think of other possible interviewees for his column.


Promod Sharma has been interviewed in various publications such as The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Canadian Business Journal and specialty publications. You'll find details on his LinkedIn profile in the Publications section.

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