[Corporate Interview Skills: Making your Guests Shine
by Steve Multer
Corporate interviews can be fun to watch or the most mind-numbing, torturous media ever created. We’ve all sat through countless meetings or suffered through endless videos where a nervous, stumbling company representative is interviewed by someone robotically reading questions off a card, in written order, regardless of the flow of conversation. We’ve endured strained conversations with monotone tech experts, sweating into the camera, as the host stares blankly with no idea who they’re talking to or what they’re talking about.
Avoid these pitfalls. Hire an interviewer who knows and cares about your industry, and knows how to get the most from your executives while putting them at ease so everyone enjoys the experience, and the final product.
This is a dance. It’s a rare interviewer who can bring out the best in your product designer or sales person, let alone your Director or C-level executive. And it’s a rare employee who displays natural energy and enthusiasm in front of a camera or live audience. When both parties are in step it’s smooth, joyful, and engaging. When these partners are out of synch, things get downright unpleasant.
Think of talk shows and the interview styles of your favorite hosts; Carson, Letterman, Degeneres, Colbert, each with their own method of listening, adjusting, constantly angling to discover the perfect balance with each unique guest and to make the most of every conversation. Some guests are better and some worse, but the best host will make every interaction a success.
It’s the same in your trade show booth, break-out session, keynote, or in your on-camera media assets. A good interview is a powerful marketing tool, while a dull interview might just as well never have happened. It all comes down to your host, the only element you can control.
Your executives and experts come in many levels of natural abilities; some are adept speakers and others can barely form a cohesive sentence. Giving your C-level VP or mid-market manager the best host to partner with and interview them puts your people at ease, makes them feel more confident, and improves their performances. A good interviewer will make all the difference in your marketing success – the entire goal when you chose an interview strategy to begin with.
So what makes a great corporate interviewer? How do you find the best option for you and your next event? Begin by looking for three vital qualifiers in any specialist you bring on board to support your event or broadcast.
Conducting a corporate interview takes skill and understanding, of your guest, your industry, and your format. You’ll always win with a seasoned, dedicated professional with years of experience, someone who offers the knowledge and confidence to connect on a personal level with your leadership and your front-line development and design teams.
Ask your vendor (or the agency hired to supply you with this important asset) about the host’s time in the field, the people they’ve interviewed, and to see lots of examples of their work. The best pros offer multiple video samples of their strength in action, displaying equal skill and comfort with all levels of interviewees, from man-on-the-street to the most powerful executives on the planet. Demand the best, and you’ll get the best result every time.
Look for an event or on-camera interview host who delivers specialty in their resume. You want and need an expert immersed in and comfortable with corporate environments and executive-level conversations in order to achieve the great conversation you and your executives are after.
The average news anchor or theme park host isn’t suited to a meaningful, engaging interview with your VP of Sales or Director of Partner Marketing. A YouTube personality is more interested in their own image than in your interviewee’s comfort or your brand’s success. Only the most experienced host, working in corporate trade shows, meetings, and conferences all the time, can put best practices into play so that you and your audience get the impact and success from each interview everyone is hoping (and paying) for.
Does your host interviewer understand your company, your product, your solution, and the culture of your brand? If the answer is no, you’ve got the wrong person on your team. Credibility is paramount to make your interview come alive; your host has to understand the conversation in order to take part in it. Anyone can ask questions then listen to answers, but it takes an expert to to achieve equal balance during the interview. Both people, sharing ideas and enthusiasm in a smooth, comfortable, knowledgable manner creates the best and most entertaining exchange.
Interview your interviewer to discover how they create connections with their guests. Ask how they’ll work in partnership with your people and top executives to make those people look great. Ask how the interviewer will make the conversation meaningful to your audience or prospective customers. A good host does their homework and brings savvy to the table, a value everyone will see, hear, and appreciate.
Bottom line, vet your agency, exhibit house, or vendor recommendations carefully to assure you invest in the right host. When in doubt, demand better. The right interview expert for you and your personnel is out there, waiting to support your best possible outcomes.