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Preparing for an interview

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  • Be ready for the four questions every interviewer will ask
  • Hone your elevator speech
  • Plan your responses to hard questions and know how to pivot back to your message
  • Practice really does make perfect
Be ready for the four questions every interviewer will ask
Just about every interview we've ever done contains four questions:
  1. What is your issue?
  2. Why does it matter?
  3. What do you want done about it?
  4. What would you say to people who say [insert your opponent's argument here]?

Creating strong answers to these questions will provide you with your basic talking points and make up the core of your message.

Sometimes you may only have 10 or 15 seconds to make your point. In such cases, be sure you've prepared an "elevator speech" using an attention-getting opener followed by the first three questions detailed above.

Consider your responses to hard questions and know how to pivot back to your message

If you've ever prepared to speak about a controversial topic, you know there are always those questions in the back of your mind that you hope the reporter doesn't ask. These are the hard questions, and it's critical that you anticipate them ahead of time and plan your response.

At Strategic Alliance, we sit down and create a list of those dreaded questions. Then we throw out all the possible responses we can think of, and choose the most compelling. No matter what our response, however, we always know how to pivot from the question back to our policy goal. Being able to pivot back to your main goal prevents the conversation from heading off-track, and allows you to stay in control of your message.

Once you've got your messaging planned, the last step is practice, practice, and more practice. It can feel pretty awkward to sit in a room with your colleagues while they conduct mock interviews and try to derail the conversation, but you'll be thankful you did when you find yourself live on the radio or in front of a mike being asked the very same questions.