Thursday, February 17, 2011

Media Tips for Resume Writers: Looking Good on TV

Media training is a topic I’m very passionate about — my bachelor’s degree is in public relations and I recently conducted a training session for one of my (non-resume-related) clients. I'd like to share with you some tips for looking good in a TV interview.

77% of adults say they watch local broadcast news several times a week or daily. Clearly, the media could be important in helping you reach job seekers and those in need of a resume or update.

The first thing to remember when trying to project this friendly, expert version of yourself is, “The only thing you have complete control over in an interview is you.” 

You can take control of any interview by remembering this simple point: The person interviewing you may direct the questions and topics, but you, the interviewee, have 100% control over your answers.

If you want to get your point across, it’s important to be clear exactly what your message is. But do it in a conversational style.

Two Answers
Don’t worry too much about the questions you’ll be asked in an interview. For any question, there are exactly two answers:
1)    Either you know the answer
2)    Or you don’t, and you say, “I don’t know” and steer the conversation back to something you do know.

It's All About The Visuals
In contrast with print interviews, TV is a visual medium — preparing how you look is as important as preparing what you say.

You’ve probably heard that the camera adds 10 pounds, but did you know that it can also suck the energy out of you? Someone who speaks with normal energy in a one-on-one conversation comes across as flat and monotone on TV. So it’s important to dial up your enthusiasm a notch or two for TV.

Also, smile! Smiling is a good strategy anytime you are in front of a TV camera. Most of the time, when we’re listening to someone else, we have a blank expression on our face — but on TV, a blank expression comes across as a frown. Keep a slight smile on your face — not a huge grin, just show a few teeth and raise your cheeks slightly.

By the way, the reason why it appears that the camera adds 10 pounds is that many people lean backwards in their chair, when they should be leaning forward. If you sit back and relax in your chair, your head will be further away from the camera than your stomach. Unfortunately, the camera latches on to whatever is closest...your gut!

Don’t sit up perfectly straight either – you’ll appear stiff and nervous.

Lean in
Instead, for seated interviews, sit up and lean forward about 15 degrees towards the camera. This will make you appear taller, thinner, younger, and leaner.

Also, it’s okay to move around a bit in a TV interview — if you sit too still, you’ll look stiff and unnatural.

One of the best things you can do to improve your performance is to watch a videotape of your interview and get feedback from other people as well. You will always find something to work on.

For example, in December, I was on the Channel 3 mid-day news with Sheila Brummer, promoting one of my client’s events. I thought it went really well — I had my smile going, I got my lean just right, I was expressive … I got in all of my sound bites … but the first thing my TV producer brother said to me when he saw me was, “Absolutely!”

It turned out that I had used the word “absolutely” four times in a two-minute interview. That may not seem like a lot, but trust me, in watching it back, it was a lot. So that’s something I’ll be conscious of next time.

Most often, you’ll notice a lot of uhhs and umms from jittery interview guests. You can avoid this by simply slowing down a bit.

Clothes Make the Man (or Woman)!
Probably the biggest question I get asked is what to wear — and what not to wear — on TV. In general, don’t wear shirts with busy patterns. For men, a light colored shirt with a dark jacket works well. For women, solid colored shirts in dark colors work well.

And women, don’t wear a tight-necked shirt. Usually, they’ll want to thread a wireless mike under your clothes and clip it at the top of your shirt, so a button-up shirt works well.

The best advice I can give you is to notice what the anchors are wearing next time you tune into the news.

In general, with TV interviews:
•  Ignore the camera
•  Make eye contact with your interviewer
•  Look alert and interested


  1. It’s a great post, you really are a good writer! I’m so glad someone like you have the time, efforts and dedication writing, for this kind of article… Helpful, And Useful.. Very nice post!

  2. Nice post for resume writing, as per my view this post is very useful fro every people who are professional resume writers and who are conduct interviews. I really appreciate your great efforts.