Ten Takeaways on Interviewing Skills

By Debbie Clayton

Mick Mixon

Mick Mixon, the play-by-play announcer for the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers, delivered a rousing session on interviewing techniques at the 2019 TOCA Annual Meeting. Saying he was "cheated" out of the genes needed for playing sports, he decided covering sports was the next-best thing.

Mixon strongly suggests preparing for interviews by thoroughly grounding yourself in the subject matter. In addition, he recommends:

1. Get over yourself.

Don't hog the spotlight! The interview is not about you; it's about the interviewee. It doesn't matter who it is – the pope, the president or a local lawn care professional.

Give the person the opportunity to speak. If necessary, script and rehearse your first question, but use words as a scalpel. Keep it short.

2. Listen intently.

Chances are the next question is embedded in the answer to the first question…and so on.

3. Set your conversation goals high.

Avoid the following:

  • Improper language: Don't say “ain't” or “me and him” or "I'm fixin’ to do something" or repeat “like” every other word or misuse the word “literally.”
  • Up talking (do not end each sentence as if it was a question).
  • Answering questions for the interviewee.

4. Be relentlessly curious.

Three things are necessary for a good interview:

  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity

5. Questions are powerful.

Give the interviewee time to think. Try to evoke emotions with your questions. For example, ask:

  • When was the last time you cried?
  • What makes you laugh out loud?

6. Avoid statement questions and either/or questions.

7. Avoid premise questions.

This is where you give a lengthy explanation before asking a question. Just “skin it down” and ask the question.

8. Avoid two-part questions.

Just ask one question at a time and follow up with another question.

9. Be yourself!

10. Have fun!