Interview Tips for Faculty and Administrators

Preparation is key to a great interview. These tips will help you appear knowledgeable, natural and confident during your media appearance.

1. Stay focused.

Before your interview, think of the top three points you would like to get across to the reporter on the topic of conversation. Remember these talking points during your interview to avoid getting off-track and losing sight of why you agreed to the interview in the first place.

Keep in mind that you will be representing your subject or area of expertise. Any university-related matter should be handled by a university designated spokesperson. If a reporter asks a sensitive question that you don’t feel equipped to answer, you can refer that reporter to the media relations department who can help answer their question.

2. Be conversational and clear.

Speak conversationally, as if you were talking to a neighbor. Keep your language clear and to the point, avoiding long-winded answers. Consider this: if you’re doing a TV interview, only a short 10-15 seconds might be used from your entire 20-minute interview with a reporter. If you give a long-winded answer to a reporter’s question, it will be hard for a reporter to edit your interview and find a piece of the interview that could translate well on TV. Think of how you can answer a question concisely in 10-15 seconds while including the reporter’s question in your answer.

3. Know your audience.

Think of who will be watching or reading your interview at home, and speak in language they would understand. If you’re a biochemistry professor and you’re talking about your new researching findings, the majority of people at home aren’t going to know scientific terms or research lingo. How can you make this information understandable for people at home, even a middle school student?

4. Think visual.

For broadcast news, visuals are essential for telling a story. Do you have any pictures or videos that could add to the story? If so, let a reporter know. Or, are there ways you can answer questions that can provide a visual picture to a story? For example, if you’re doing research on water waste, instead of saying, “We found 660,250 gallons of water are wasted every day," you could create imagery by saying, “We found that the amount of water wasted every day is enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.” Vivid images, even mental ones, can help people remember your research more clearly.

5. Dress appropriately.

If you are speaking as an expert in your field, we recommend dressing to impress and represent USD in the best possible way. If you have time, watch the network news that you’ll be interviewed on and see what the reporters are wearing to be your guide for the upcoming interview. As a general rule:

  • Women should dress in business attire. Stick to solid-colored blouses and avoid prints or distracting jewelry.
  • Men should dress in business attire and avoid distracting prints.

6. Skype or Zoom like a pro.

An increasing number of interviews are done using videoconferencing technology rather than face-to-face. If you are asked to give a TV interview using an application like Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, here's a few steps to help you look your best.

  • Use a horizontal screen orientation (if you're using a smart phone, turn it sideways).
  • Place the camera at eye level on a flat, steady surface.
  • Create clear and even lighting on your face. This is very important, but often overlooked. One way to do this is to face a window. Another is to set up two lamps with shades on either side of your camera (laptop).
  • Mute all alerts and ringers before the call.
  • Make sure your battery is fully charged or you are plugged into a power source.
  • Check that you have a solid and steady Wi-Fi signal.
  • Check your environment — make sure there are no distractions around you, like a pet. Consider what people will see behind you. A plant can be visually pleasing in the background, while a trash can is not.
  • Test your setup. Since there's not going to be any techie nearby to troubleshoot for you if there are issues, it's best to do a test run. Once you are ready, you could call up a friend to make sure your setup is working.
  • Speak to the camera, not your screen, when answering questions.

If you have questions and need assistance working with the media, please contact us by emailing We look forward to hearing from you.


USD Media Relations
  (619) 260-4659