One thing you should remember when being interviewed on TV or radio is that you are there to answer questions, not to ask them.
On occasions, you hear an interviewee throw a question back at their interviewer, as though they are trying to win the interviewer’s agreement with the points they are making.
Let’s take this example.
You are the head of the planning committee at a local council. You’ve just approved the building of 800 new homes in a village in the Home Counties. It’s a controversial issue and there is lots of opposition to the construction plans.
Details of the opposition’s case are put to you during the early phase of the interview. You then decide to get a bit too pally with your interviewer, trying to win him or her round to your side of the argument. It goes like this:
Question: “Do you not understand the disruption that will be caused to villagers during the construction phase and the pressure on local resources there will be once the houses are built?”
Answer: “I’m sure you would agree, John, that where you live most people understand the need for new homes and would generally end up accommodating any new housing development. Isn’t that the case?”
Interviewer’s reply: “Where I live, and what residents think, are not what we’re here to discuss. I ask the questions. But since you ask, near where I live we have had hundreds of new homes built. The disruption during the construction period was unbearable and since the new homes have been built you can’t find a car parking space anywhere, you can’t get a doctor’s appointment and the traffic jams are 20 times worse than they were before.”
With those words the interviewer has delivered a knockout blow – one that was self-inflicted by the interviewee.
So throwing a question back at the interviewer has two dangerous drawbacks.
Firstly, it will irritate the interviewer who is not there to have an exchange of views with you, but to put the obvious questions.
Secondly, the interviewee might not know anything about the interviewer and their background.
You are therefore entering a minefield, or at least unknown territory, if you go down this road.