Thursday, May 31, 2007

My Today Show Appearance

You know the old saying about “walking the talk?” Well, I decided to put that into practice for my appearance on the Today show on May 27.

I was asked to discuss some of the topics from my new book, “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy…and How to Avoid Them.” I was told about six weeks ago when I would appear, and even though there was some general discussion about specific topics, I didn’t know exactly what I would be talking about until the day before.

That may sound nerve-wracking – appearing on television in front of millions of people with less than 24 hours notice of the topic for discussion.

But I wasn’t nervous – not even a flutter in my stomach. When I sat down in that chair to be interviewed by Amy Robach, I was confident in my ability to do well in the interview.

That’s because I had followed the advice of experts I had been interviewing over the years. They had always told me that the key to any good interview is to prepare, prepare, prepare. That’s exactly what I did, and it really paid off. So, here’s how I “walked the talk” and some lessons I’ll share with you when you go for any kind of interview:

• I did my research. I read articles and online discussions about television appearances. I am a print journalist, and knew little to nothing about appearing in front of a camera. I learned how television studios function, the best way to sit (straight back, legs crossed away from the camera, leaning slightly forward, hands in your lap) and what to wear (no loud or busy prints). I also watched the show many times to see what worked – and what didn’t – for other guests. I took note of those who seemed really engaging, the way they sat, the way they related to the interviewer.

You should always do as much research as you can on a potential job or employer. If you don’t know how to research a company, check out the resources I’m going to list at the end of this blog, and the other career resources on this Web site. Try to visit a company before your interview to get a feel for the culture and how employees dress.

• I practiced. I wrote out what questions I felt the interviewers might ask, then practiced my answers. I worked on coming up with examples of each item I discussed. I also got my husband to ask me questions while my son videotaped the interview. I wore the clothes I planned on wearing on the show. I learned after watching the tape that I needed to take off the bracelets I was wearing – they clattered distractingly every time I gestured. I learned that I needed to eliminate some “um’s” and remember to keep my posture straight, but relaxed.

Get a family member or friend to help practice your interviewing skills. If you don’t have a video camera, a tape recorder will work. Look for annoying habits such as saying “like” or “you know” or “uh.” Work to eliminate those so that you sound confident and professional with your answers. If you use a video camera, you can see if your clothes look professional and neat. Make sure your appearance is not distracting in any way (wild hair, wrinkled clothes, poor posture).

• I asked lots of questions. When I spoke with the producer in charge of my segment on the show, I had questions prepared. What time should I arrive? Who should I ask for when I got to NBC studios? How long would the segment last?
Who was interviewing me? What should I bring with me?

When you speak to the person scheduling your interview, ask similar questions. Where should you park? What time should you arrive? Who should you ask for? Who will you be meeting? (Get the correct spelling and pronunciation of names.) What should you bring with you? How much time is scheduled for your interview? (This will help your prepare your answers to fit the allotted time.)

• I minded my manners. I introduced myself to each person I met, from the NBC page to the other guests to the interviewer, shaking hands firmly and making eye contact while smiling. (This was not tough – everyone was very friendly and nice.) I also followed up with hand written thank-you notes to the producers and the interviewer.

Never forget that even if you don’t get this job, your good manners may help land you a spot with them in the future. One of the most important keys to career success is establishing good contacts in your professional field.

Some good online sites to check for information about a company:

You can search for a company by name or industry, and will give you home office addresses, telephone numbers and Web site addresses.

Company research
A guide for company research needs, including job hunting, career information, and investment decisions.

Cornell University
Resources for workplace issues.

Corporate Information
Information on private and international companies.

Background on private companies, geared to high tech companies.


Anonymous said...

Saw you on the show. You were great. They should have you on more often.

Anonymous said...

This is good to know. I have an interview coming up, and I'm going to get someone to practice with me. I think it will also be good to find out more about the company. I didn't know about these Websites.