The Power of Honesty in Interviews

Haloti Ngata and Gerry Sandusky interview on live TV

So often in media interviews, the person on the receiving end of the question wants to avoid the truth on questions like, “Who is responsible for the screw ups on the health care websites?” Audiences today have become so experienced at watching the side-step that it really doesn’t work anymore. Poise and polish alone no longer get the job done.

Truth is the new outlandish.

I experienced that first hand earlier this week while doing an interview with Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata. Our seven minute interview covered a lot of predictable areas: the Ravens playoff hopes, struggles on the road, his background as a big play maker. Then, I steered the interview in a less predictable direction: his role as a father. Haloti and his wife have two boys and a third on the way. I asked him about being a dad this time of the year and how it impacted him, did it give him an outlet or did it add to the stress of life in the NFL in December.

He blew me away with his honesty.

Haloti started talking about his sons, Solomon and Haloti Maximus (great name, right?). He said of fatherhood that it amazed him to discover he could love another human so much and so deeply. He got a far away look in his eyes as he talked about his family while remaining fully present in our conversation. His honesty stunned me in a powerful and positive way. I don’t even remember what he said about the playoff run. That came across as yada, yada, yada—all expected stuff, predictable answers. But when he spoke from the heart, this gigantic man who makes his living slamming into other gigantic men, Haloti captivated me and the viewing audience.

It was both natural and remarkably brave to speak so honestly, so unguarded.

Try it yourself. The next time you watch an interview notice how much of it washes over you as expected and irrelevant. And notice what stands out. In a media savvy world, honesty stands out. The next time you get interviewed, stand out with honesty. It resonates and connects with viewers and listeners. And it reminds us all that being honest remains a much more admired path than being right or being safe.

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