So, you’re a podcaster and you’re ready to interview guests, but have no idea where to begin. What questions should you ask? How do you keep your guests comfortable and engaged in the conversation? What happens if there’s an awkward silence? Have no fear, interviewing guests can be a breeze as long as you do your homework. Ready to learn more? Let’s hit it!
What to do before your interview:
Do. Your. Research.
Research your guest beforehand and find out any personal information like interests or hobbies. Start by checking out their social media profiles like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Conduct additional research on what has already been written about that person online, in print media such as newspapers or magazines, or from other podcasts they have been on. This will help you get to know your guest better, and keep you from asking questions other interviewers or authors have already asked ad nauseum.
What type of questions are most effective:
- Instead of yes/no questions, ask open ended ones. They result in more engaging and interesting conversations. This conversational style also benefits listeners by giving them hints as to what direction topics might be heading in without knowing too much beforehand.
- Ask leading questions, where you ask a question in order to help guide the conversation topically.
- Ask follow up questions to dig deeper into an answer that’s intriguing.
- When in doubt or if the conversation stalls, ask your guest about something they are passionate about. They’ll always have something to say!
- Respectfully disagreeing with your guests or playing devil’s advocate can be an effective strategy, which can lead to spirited debate and interesting conversations. Be careful of your tone and approach. Being too combative is a no-no, so tread lightly and use this approach sparingly.
Make your guests comfortable:
First and foremost, talk with them before the interview starts. Provide some space before you hit the record button for some low-stakes conversation to break the ice and build rapport. While you’re talking, guide your guest through the interview flow and what they can expect, including how long the session will last, roughly how many questions you’ll ask, and any topics that are off limits.
Again, do your research. Knowing the person and their interests will go a long way in facilitating an interview that people will enjoy listening to.
Interview best practices:
- Be prepared for technical difficulties. Wifi connections drop, distracting noises happen, equipment stops working. It happens. Don’t let it frazzle you. Stay professional and try your best to get things back on track.
- Be confident and don’t be afraid of silence. There is nothing wrong with being quiet every now and then in order for both you and your guest to have a moment to think. Most people take a moment to gather their thoughts before answering. And some of the best answers come when the guest is given enough space and silence to thoughtfully respond.
- Make sure that whatever topic(s) your podcast deals with can stand alone without any other show needed in order to fully explain the content.
- Prepare and do your research about your guest and the topic at hand – we know we sound like a broken record, but that’s how important it is.
- Know when to stop asking questions. If things are getting too deep or personal (and that’s not the point of the interview), it’s time to change topics. Or if the guest is noticeably tired and not as engaged, it’s time to wrap the session.
Let us know how it goes if you try these tips. And drop a comment below if there are any tips we should add to the list.
Paige McCauley is FRQNCY Media’s digital marketing maven and resident musical wunderkind. Paige has a long history with the power of sound as an award-winning recording artist and songwriter, performing at venues like The Fox Theatre, House of Blues in West Hollywood, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. She also has extensive experience in the music industry, interning for the Recording Academy and working with artists like Billie Eilish, Travis Scott, and Brandi Carlile during her time in college.