Top 5 Shocking Mistakes Often Made in Interviews



Who said it was easy?

Media interviews often present you with a great way to expose your brand, business, or politics in an effective way.

When utilized effectively, they can be of substantial help to boost public opinions on topics and key issues.

On the other hand, media interviews can be absolutely devastating and detrimental if you don’t respond correctly and conduct yourself inappropriately.

 So on that topic, here are the Top 5 Mistakes that people make during media interviews…


1. Not preparing for a topic

This is perhaps the most common mistake, yet many people still don’t take time to prepare.

Journalists are predators by nature, always looking the juiciest story.

By not preparing, you are just walking into their den with a blindfold on.


2. The guessing game

If you aren’t sure about the answer to a question, don’t guess!

Answer honestly by saying you’re not sure, or that you don’t know the correct figures.

Take the 2018 example of then Shadow Secretary Diane Abbot on LBC Radio as a warning.

How many new police officers were Labour going to fund, and what would it cost?

  1. 10,000 police officers at £300,000
  2. 25,000 police officers at £80m
  3. 250,000 police officers at £64.3m

The answer according to Diane, well, it was all three…


3. Lights, camera, RE-action…

When giving an interview, always expect whatever recording equipment present to be recording as long as you are in the room. Always be aware of this fact.

Take singing Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe for example. Whilst waiting for a TV interview to discuss plans to buy their rivals Asda, boosting the company’s value by £860m, he began to sing in an attempt to calm his nerves.

“We’re in the money”, he so elegantly sang – all captured on the ever-present ITV camera and released later in the day.

What followed was the social media mockery and news stories you might expect…

Simple advice – remember where you are and don’t do anything to cause an unnecessary reaction.


4. Too much jargon

Remember that when doing a media interview, it is your main aim to tell a story that is both exciting and interesting.

Industry rhetoric can often get in the way of that – alienating both the interviewer, and those listening at home who don’t entirely understand what you are talking about.

Just try to use plain English and ditch the Jargon, for everybody’s sake.


5. Be aware of any decisive questions

Perhaps the precursor to many infamous interviews comes in the form of a decisive question.

This will be a cut-throat question that tries to make you uncomfortable or uses your past against you.

It’s one that you have to be aware of. Any issues that could be brought up, will be brought up.

A recent example featured when Conservative Matt Hancock praised the government for sending food packages to impoverished children during the January 2021 lockdown.

What followed was Piers Morgan’s simple but fair question: “Why did you vote against this?”

This was enough to have the Health Secretary squirming after being asked the question repeatedly as he was not willing to respond appropriately.

Don’t be like Hancock. Prepare, make sure you have the correct media training and be aware.


… and those were only the top FIVE mistakes to be aware of as the interviewee!


Need more advice on how to give interviews professionally, effectively and with purpose? Erbut provides bespoke media training courses to prepare any interviewee for their moment in the spotlight.

Speak to one of our ex-journalist media coaches here.

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