Sunday, May 31, 2015

Interviewing: Historic Example of a Prominent American Left Utterly Speechless Because He Failed to Anticipate an Obvious Question

The video clip below should serve as a powerful and most enduring lesson to anyone and everyone who will ever be interviewed. The lesson: That if you fail to do your homework, such as formulating your thoughts on at least the most likely questions during a forthcoming interview, then you, too, could look like a “deer in the headlights” and, for a few moments, become the definition of “inarticulate”!

Background: My blog readers of a certain age will immediately recognize the video clip because it’s from a famous TV interview broadcast on CBS in November, 1979, when the late Sen. Edward Kennedy was about to launch his campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. You can see Kennedy is clearly stumped when the interviewer, famous broadcast journalist Roger Mudd, asks him an obvious question--“Why do you want to be president?” For whatever reason (hubris, or a sense of entitlement, or something else) the senator isn’t prepared for that query and freezes! [Incidentally, it took Kennedy several seconds to “recover,” and when he did, he began rambling hopelessly, which you can see at the 1:21 minute mark in the following clip on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5TkhNWPspM.] 

Not surprisingly, Ted Kennedy’s miserable expression and inarticulateness in response to Mudd’s question instantly became airborne and, to this day, more than 35 years later, the then-White House hopeful’s fiasco still finds occasional mention in the media. In fact, that is exactly how the long-ago interview reentered my consciousness: Last month, while discussing the present crop of presidential candidates, a talking head featured the clip below to remind his audience of what can transpire when any interviewee is poorly prepared and lowers his or her guard. 

© Copyright 2015  V. J. Singal

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