“I’m sorry. What was the question again?” If you are getting this response to a question you asked during an interview, you have some serious work to do. While I am primarily referring to media/video interviews, the advise I am about to give applies to job interviews, discussions with colleagues, “one on one” employer-employee interviews, etc. I see this mistake everyday and I even see it from those in the news business who consider themselves communication experts. SHORTEN THE QUESTION.
The very best interviewers in the world seldom ask more than three or four word questions. Don’t believe me? Watch Oprah reruns. Watch anyone on 60 Minutes. Matt Lauer, or even Ellen DeGeneres. The good ones know that the best tactic to get that perfect sound bite, to get that emotional and powerful response you are looking for is to make the question short, sweet, and to the point. Why? Because it’s so much easier to answer a direct question when IT IS a direct question.
I recently listened to a colleague get caught up in his own greatness, and proceed to ramble paragraph after paragraph until he finally stopped and the interviewee was left with nothing but a question. “What was that questions again?”
Don’t be that guy.