Monday, September 23, 2013

Interviews--My Checklist for Skype Interviews, Podcasts, or Radio

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Although I don’t do a ton of interviews, I probably do a live or recorded interview every few months.  I especially like the recorded ones because I figure if I say something dumb, they can edit it all out and make me look as if I know what I’m talking about. :)
I’ve learned from my mistakes in the past with these things, too.  I think of my house as being a very quiet place, but apparently, judging from my interview experiences, there is actually plenty of noise pollution there.  The pets, for one.  My corgi will bark at the cats, at the doorbell, and sometimes when she wants to go outside.  The cats are male litter-mates and fight tooth and nail with each other.  Various appliances make buzzer-like alarms when they’re done running.  My UPS guy feels the need to hit the doorbell when he drops off a package (I do appreciate this, but it makes the aforementioned barking happen).
I try to schedule interviews when no one is at home.  This has worked with 90% of my Skype interviews. But I’ve got some kind of radio-related curse.  Whenever I have a radio interview, and the ones I’ve done have unfortunately all been live, I will most certainly have a sick child or a snow day on my hands (with school canceled). This is one reason I know it’s a curse—y’all know it doesn’t snow down here in the American South all that often.
So here’s the checklist that I use before an interview, in the hopes it can help you out, too:
Where are the children?  Have I told them what I’m doing, so that they won’t accidentally disturb me? Regardless of the fact you’ve told them about the interview, put a sticky note on your door so that they’ll remember before they knock.
Put the dog in a back bedroom.
Put the cats away (in a separate room from the dog).
Put a sticky note on the door asking Fed-X, UPS, and the mailman not to ring the doorbell.
Put my cellphone away or mute it.
Have water nearby.  I will immediately have a coughing fit, guaranteed, whenever I’m supposed to be recorded. 
Skype specific:
Do a sound/video check.
Turn on lots of lights in the house and provide backlighting, too. 
Wear lots more makeup than usual. Or, in my case, wear make-up, period.
Pull out my webcam. It seems to be much better-quality than the one that came with my laptop.
Remember not to look at the computer, where I see the interviewer.  I need to look in the camera, or else I look distracted.
What’s in the background? Do I need to dust?  :) 
Books.  Have a book nearby that I can hold up…if it’s that kind of interview.  Sometimes it’s not a promo thing, it’s a craft thing and I might just have books on my dusted table in the background.
Radio and podcast specific:
Don’t use my cellphone to call in.  Use the house phone.
Turn off call waiting if you have it.
They’re fond of hearing the station’s call letters in the broadcast.
For any interview:
See if I can get the questions in advance.  It helps me give a more thoughtful answer and just provides them with better content, in general.
Be able to sum up your book in one sentence because you’ll usually be asked to tell the interviewer about your most-recent release or what you’re working on now.
Last week’s interview was with Gabriela Pereira with DIYMFA for Lit Loft writing conference and online course.  You can see a little of what we touched on at Gabriela’s site, here.
Have any tips I’ve missed about interviews?  Have you been interviewed?  How did it go?