I say this facetiously, of course, but it’s an important point that works in press interviews, investor meetings, job interviews and more.

The interviewer always has an agenda. It’s your job to know what that is in advance. Find out what story they want to tell, and how they think you fit into that. Figure out what their objectives are, and how you help to achieve them.

Understand crisply who the interviewer is accountable to. Their boss? Their readers? Their investor clients? What does that critical audience, invisible but hugely important behind the interviewer, care about?

Because whatever you say in the interview, you’re really saying to them.

Which gets to the third and most important constituent of the interview – you.

What are your objectives? What messages do you want to get across? How do you proactively intend to use the interview as an opportunity to drive interest, engagement, movement and/or action from the target audience behind the interviewer?

What’s your agenda? If you don’t know, you’re not ready for the interview.

In any interview situation, if you’re just answering the questions without a purpose or strategy, you’ve also lost control of the outcome.