You’re interviewing for a job.
You’re getting ready for a media interview.
But you’re afraid — what if they ask you a question that you don’t want to answer? Or can’t answer?
Do you remember the big controversy around the Today Show interview with Jane Fonda? I’m going to show you what Fonda did right – and how you can do the same when you don’t want to answer a question during a media interview or in a job interview.
First, some background…
It blew up.
She looked dumb.
I’m talking about Megyn Kelly.
Did you see this video? Watch starting at 1:30 in.
During the interview, Kelly asked about Fonda’s plastic surgery, “I read that you said you’re not proud to admit you’ve had work done. Why not?”
Fonda stared at Kelly and then answered: “We really want to talk about that right now?”
Kelly quickly replied, “One of the things people think about you when they look at you is how amazing you look.”
Fonda credited her “good attitude, good posture,” and then turned the segment subject back to Our Souls at Night. “But let me tell you why I love this movie that we did, Our Souls at Night, rather than plastic surgery,” Fonda said.
This is what we call art, deflecting and professionalism.
I’m going to teach you how to do this, but first…
Here are some lessons learned from this interview if you’re in the media:
- Even female members of the media fall into sexist traps. Don’t let yourself.
- Fonda has never liked discussing the procedures she’s undergone to age gracefully. You know this. Do not ask sexist and unimportant questions. The female race is not made up of idiots. We know she’s had work. We can see it. Why not just ask her about Vietnam too right in the middle of an interview about her new movie with Robert Redford?
- If you’re going to ask a woman about her plastic surgery, do not ask in front of a man she’s been in love with for decades. It’s tacky. Would you do this in person, at a party?
At the end of the day, I wish I knew who her doctor is – I have several clients who would love to look as good as Jane Fonda when they’re her age. Me too.
Now for you, my fellow business professionals… there’s a wonderful lesson for us in how Fonda answered this question.
Fonda has spent her career answering difficult questions especially after her comments on the Vietnam War that infuriated much of the United States.
YOU can learn from her.
Politicians, like President Donald Trump, have mastered the art of deflection. I want you to be just as prepared when you need to change the subject during an interview.
Here’s how to deflect like the pros and deal with the tough questions:
- Acknowledge the question, but don’t answer it. “Great question, but what we should be looking at is…”
- Question the question. Question the question when it’s based on false information or factually inaccurate. You can also question the question when it’s too personal. Also, try asking for more information: “I’d love to answer that… but I need clarification.” “I’d love to answer that… but please let me know what you mean by those numbers.” Turn the question onto the interviewer: “Why do you ask me that?” This is what Fonda did during the interview on TODAY. Kelly asked the question and Fonda replied, “We really want to talk about that right now?”
- Refuse to answer. Not your area of responsibility? Refuse to answer and give the name of the person who can.
- Partially answer. Start to answer but then change the subject right away. This is what Fonda did in this example: Fonda: “We really want to talk about that right now?” Kelly: “One of the things people think about you when they look at you is how amazing you look.” Fonda: “good attitude, good posture… But let me tell you why I love this movie that we did, Our Souls at Night, rather than plastic surgery.”
- Explain that the question has already been answered. “We’ve addressed this.” “I’m not going to go over old ground.”
I know there are examples in your head now that you’d seen the strategy. If not, you’re going to notice this all the time going forward. Learn from the good and bad examples during live interviews.
Is there an interview that you’ve seen that’s a great example of deflecting? Share the links below so we can all learn from them.