The interview is looming, you’ve rehearsed your key messages, as well as the call to action, (this could be directing your audience to your website for more information) and you’re feeling confident in your preparation techniques. So how do you handle the rough and tough questions, which can turn a well-prepared interview into a controversial headline? Here are the top three curly questions: speculative, false premise and accusatory questions.
Many journalists will try to trap you by pushing you to speculate about the unknown. Many of these questions might seem innocuous; they’re questions asking you to predict the future and comment on the likelihood of a scenario; guessing the outcome. By answering speculative questions, a lot of damage can be done to your reputation, particularly if you guess wrong. Journalists can use sound bites from your response and use it against you in future interviews.
False premise questions:
Journalists may include a false premise in their questions with the aim of sensationalising your response. This line of questioning is common with political commentators for example, the question starts with a logical statement with an assumption that is false.
This style of questioning is common when a journalist is chasing a story and looking for a defensive response. An example is a journalist approaching you unexpectedly either exiting a building or getting out of a vehicle. Being approached by a journalist with a microphone and camera pointing at you can be confronting. Often the ensuing response is unprepared and defensive. The best way to handle the situation is to keep calm; both in your tone and through your body language.
I’ve included a link to a CNN segment with the late Joan Rivers who was caught up in a interview full of accusatory questions. Watch as the interview derails as Ms Rivers becomes increasingly agitated and frustrated.