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Knowing the questions before an interview?

Over the years, I have given close to one hundred interviews. They have been on varying topics. Ranging from healthcare to politics to writing. Some have been on radio, some on tv, and some on podcasts. Some live and others pre-recorded. I have also participated in live audience debates, panel discussions and I was one, along with my friend The Yonk, of several political “experts” for a local newscast. In all of those, I have never once been given questions ahead of time.

The reason for the above statement, and this post, is that the other day I read on Social Media someone discussing being stressed about an upcoming podcast interview, which of course is normal. But they also wrote that they had, “…just finished preparing my answers to the questions…”

Being a little surprised at this, I made a comment intimating that I was unsure if I had read the meaning of the post correctly, that “were they given the questions ahead of time?”

The response, was …. “Yes. It’s so you know what to answer and not have “dead air” or answer what’s at the top of your head instead of what would be best for you and your brand. It’s just so you know what to say because you had time to think about it.”

I was even more stunned reading this reply. I can honestly say, that I have never heard of such complete and utter and wholeheartedly offensive bullshit!

A pause in speaking, while reflecting on an answer, is not what is meant by dead air. A pause to reflect on what you are going to say, demonstrates a serious consideration of the question presented.

The other comment, the one about “what is best for you and your brand,” is perhaps most telling. It is a flat out admission that this was not an ernest interview, but more than likely an advertising opportunity. I mean really, if you don’t know “you and/or your brand” well enough to speak intelligently “off the top of your head” without being given questions ahead of time —


Before I wrote this, I wanted to ask someone on the other side of the microphone, so I got in touch

with an old radio colleague, and someone who had interviewed me quite a few times. He has conducted probably somewhere in the area of a thousand interviews, if not more, and he told me he never once gave an interview subject the questions ahead of time.

I am not intending to be rude, although I am quite aware that it appears that way, which is why I didn’t express any of this directly to the poster. I simply wished them well. However, I am fascinated by this concept. It leads to other questions…

How do you have a spontaneous, and more importantly genuine, give and take, if you know both the give and the take?

If an interesting answer is given, does the interviewer try to probe a bit further and expand?

Is the interviewer even listening to the responses, or merely checking the question of the list and moving on?

Most disturbing…

Is the subject being genuine, or fraudulent, by having had time prior to the interview to prepare answers to the questions?

Perhaps I am simply used to being around professionals who take their craft seriously, or a bit naive and anachronistic in believing that the purpose an interview is to gain insight, not merely self-promotion and that the role of the interviewer is to not only ask probing questions, but listen to the answers as well.


“Who am I?”

I am an independent, self-published teller of tales. I am an author of scarcely any renown. However, as a storyteller, I know who I am, and with that persona, I am both confident and comfortable. I invite you to visit my website, and/or Amazon Author Page, if you are so inclined please purchase a copy and leave a review.

Thank you,


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