It's my story: helping care-experienced young people give effective media interviews
Preparing for interviews
There are many techniques to help people get the best out of interviews. Some are given here and there are more in the handout. However, what is most important is to help young people prepare their agenda and the messages they want to get across.
You can use Slide 15 to create a discussion about the following points.
- It is important to identify the key message or messages you want to put across. For example, you might decide that your key message is ‘Young people are in care through no fault of their own and should always be treated the same as everyone else.’ Having this key message firmly identified gives you something to check against to make sure you are sticking to your agenda in the interview and not being distracted from this by the questions the interviewer is asking.
- Sometimes in interviews the ‘right question’ never comes up – so don’t wait. Be proactive and create your own opportunity to get your message across. (There is more about how to do this in the next section.)
- If you go into an interview hoping that a difficult question doesn’t come up this will make you more nervous and less likely to concentrate on what you are talking about. And it won’t help you to cope if that question does come up. So it is best to encourage young people to think about any difficult questions that might arise and consider how to handle them.
For example, a young person may be worrying that the interviewer will ask them whether they have ever been evicted from a flat for difficult behaviour, to which they would have to answer ‘yes’. It is much better for them to prepare for this, so they might calmly reply: ‘Yes, when I was younger this happened to me – sadly it was because I wasn’t prepared properly for living on my own and I didn’t realise that playing my music so loudly would upset my neighbours. That’s why I think it’s so important for other young people preparing to leave care to have as much help as possible for living by themselves … which is why I’m involved in this campaign …’
- Identifying the type of questions you think the interviewer is likely to ask is always good preparation for any interviewee. Involving someone else is a good idea because they may think of issues you haven’t thought about.
- You never need to do an interview straight away. Ask a journalist why they want to interview you, what it will be about, when the piece is likely to go out, whether it will be in a studio or elsewhere and whether there will be any other people interviewed at the same time.
Slide 15: sample text:
- Know your own agenda and why you are doing this
- Identify one or two key points you want to get across
- Prepare examples and anecdotes carefully
- Imagine you are the interviewer – what questions do you think the listeners want you to ask?
- Think about ‘difficult’ questions and what you will say or do if the interviewer asks you these
- Practise beforehand with a friend or colleague
Traditionally, people were taught on media training courses to prepare three key messages, but it’s usually easier to have one – or at the most, two – key messages).
In this example Jenny stays very clearly focused on her key messages and isn’t afraid to correct negative assumptions made by the interviewer.From media training with Voices from Care Cymru, commissioned by SCIE