Talisa Jansen van Rensburg takes a look at five things that you should never say in an interview with the media.
People are more likely to remember the incriminating or outrageous things that you have said than they do the insightful and positive.
“Negative emotions generally involve more thinking and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones
. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones,” says Alina Tuggend in an article for The New York Times
Thus, something said in an interview that could be spun as negative will definitely
be ingrained in your audience’s memory, which is why it’s vital to recognise the phrases that could hurt your reputation most in an interview.So, let’s take a look at the things you should avoid saying:
1. “No comment.”
Making use of the phrase ‘no comment’ on air can indicate to the audience that you are hiding something from them. This is because the phrase is ominous; it can either mean that you don’t know the answer to the question or that you are willingly withholding information.
Evasive language like that leaves room for the audience to speculate about why you can’t or won’t answer the question you were asked. Leaving room for this type of speculation means audiences can criticise everything else that you are saying in the interview.
So, when you are placed in a situation where you know you can’t answer the question, rather take a moment to explain to the host and the audience why
you are not able to answer it. And make sure that you limit any room for speculation.
2. “In my personal opinion …”
While you are entitled to have your own opinion on things, you have to keep your brand or company in mind when you’re being interviewed in your professional
capacity. Be sure to keep all your answers on-brand to avoid people attacking the agency for things that you
When answering questions, it is better to just stick to the facts. This is because giving your personal opinion can cause issues during the interview as well as have a detrimental aftermath that can negatively impact you, and the organisation you’re representing.
“Some spokespersons wonder whether they can express a personal opinion so long as they tell the reporter
: ‘This is my personal opinion, not the view of the company.’ No way. The reporter will still identify you as a representative of the company, and your conflicting view will undercut the view you’re being paid to articulate,” says Brad Phillips, contributor for Throughline.
So remember, you’re never speaking in your own capacity but rather on behalf of someone else, so be careful about giving out any personal opinions.
3. “Let me teach you something …”
When you speak to the media, you might feel the urge to lecture the audience on how they
should do their job or the ways that they
can be doing something better, but this is a dangerous path to venture down. There is a big
difference between offering advice
— and people do not like to be lectured.
Trying to scold your audience will only upset and anger people and cause them to not want to interact with you or any of your affiliating brands or organisations.
Instead of lecturing the audience on how to do their job, you can provide them with tips and tricks you have learned in your industry. This will allow them to decide for themselves whether they want to make use of the information that you are sharing with them.
4. “What is the name of your publication again?”
You should always prepare before an interview, knowing who is interviewing you and the company that they work for. If you don’t, it shows that you haven’t taken an interest in the publication or it might seem that you don’t actually care about the interview.
Instead, focus on the things you do
know and remember to rather include those in the questions you ask or the answers that you provide. For example, you might remember that the publication specialises in marketing content; so, rather ask questions that are focused on that specific industry. For example, say something like, “I know your publication specifically focuses on marketing content, and what I can say in that regard is … ”
This way, you are still showing that you do indeed know something about the company that is interviewing you.
5. “If I can be 100% honest with you …”
This is a common saying that many people use, however, it is not advised to use this phrase in a media interview. Why
? Because by saying “can I be honest,”or even “honestly”, you make the viewer or reader feel that you are in fact not being honest in all the answers that you give them.
Blatantly having to say that you are about to be truthful comes off as inconspicuous; why do you need to tell audiences that you’re about to be honest? Have you not been honest at other times?
This will definitely create an unnecessary suspicion from the audience and, again, this can do a lot
of damage — not only to the organisation that you are representing, but also to yourself.
So, ensure that you are honest and authentic in every media interview and don’t use words that will make you seem less trustworthy, even if you had good intentions.What other phrases do you think interviewees should steer clear of in interviews? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Now that you know what you should not say, be sure to read this Eight-step guide to a successful media interview to ensure all your bases are covered.
*Image courtesy of Unsplash