Interviewees often get irritated when they are interrupted. It’s pointless.
Interrupting an interviewee is what interviewers are paid to do. For the interviewee, the important thing is to understand why interviewers interrupt.
Of course there are interviewers out there who seem to keep jumping in for no apparent reason other than to prove they are some kind of macho interviewer. Usually they are not very good interviewers and probably not particularly experienced journalists.
But the good ones interrupt for very good reasons. And here’s why.
- They have asked a question and the interviewee has deliberately not answered it or made no attempt even to given a brief response. Instead they try to answer the question they would have preferred to receive. No decent interviewer is going to allow that to happen and so he or she is perfectly entitled to interrupt and ask the original question again.
- The interviewee is a wind-bag, taking ages to answer the question, giving too much background, history or peripheral information, rather than giving a straightforward answer to straightforward question.
- The interviewee has made their point, replied to the question and is now droning on. The answer is seriously in danger of becoming a speech or free advertising. Again, the interviewer should not allow this to happen.
- The interviewer is aware of one thing the interviewee is not – the clock, or more precisely the second hand on the clock. The interviewer will know they have a specific length of time within which to conduct the interview. Running over time leaves producers tearing their hair out. “Crashing” the Greenwich Time Signal pips is the broadcasting equivalent of a war crime. Moreover, the interviewer will know there are a certain number of questions they need to put, or areas they must cover, to make it a professionally respectable interview. They can’t afford to let these questions fall by the wayside because time has run out. That’s another reason why they interrupt.
From the interviewee’s point of view it’s not worth getting steamed up about this and showing frustration on the air. Irascible phrases like “Can you please let me finish…” or “If you’d only stop interrupting me…” sound desperate. If you feel you’ve been interrupted unfairly, it’s best to return to your point in an understated, less hysterical manner with a phrase like…”Just to complete the point I was making briefly…” or “To conclude that point very quickly…”
Don’t get angry.
Above all, don’t storm out of the studio!