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Effective interviews are a two way street

19th April 2018


MD for Grayling Middle East, Jonathan Shillington adds some comments from an interviewer and interviewee perspective on the importance of interview preparation following Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony on Capitol Hill.

I have always loved a good pantomime production, and the best one I’ve seen in a long time was last week’s US Senate Hearing’s questioning of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.   Some great crackers throughout such as…Senator (looking baffled): “How do you sustain a business model which users don’t pay for your service?” Zuckerberg (trying not to look amazed): “Senator, we run ads.” – you couldn’t make it up.  Or the classic “if I’m emailing within WhatsApp does that ever inform your advertisers” – Zuckerberg “No, we don’t see any of the content in WhatsApp, its fully encrypted”.  As my Washington colleague MJ Marshall noted in her blog a few days ago Zuckerberg could have prepared better for the Capital Hill inquisition, and this is where media training before such a grilling is key. It was at times comedic to watch, even though he tried hard to be patient and respectful to his inquisitors.  But what is such an important issue – data privacy, was undermined extraordinarily by the ill-preparation and unsuitability of the some of the those trusted with the questioning, who were clearly struggling with the subject matter.  For those interested in communications, it served as a great lesson for anyone who is a spokesperson for an organization – be prepared for the informed questions, but equally ensure you are prepared to answer the ill-informed questions as well, and do so with good grace, openness and sincerity. More often than not the interviewee is the subject matter expert not the interviewer.

 


Grayling Team

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