The art of the podcast interview. It’s involved, takes a lot of practice, and has the potential to help make your podcast a success. But while so much of being a great interviewer has to do with the conversation, it also has to do with the podcast interview questions.
In order to get interesting and valuable answers, you must first ask great questions.
In this post we’re going to cover how to best prepare for a podcast interview, plus share 10 of the best podcast interview questions – and how to ask these questions.
Podcast Interview Questions
Let’s talk about why your questions are so important to the success of your show.
First, a great podcast interview is a conversation. While the questions you ask are very important, this isn’t a game of asking a question, getting an answer, and then immediately jumping to the next question.
The best podcast interviewers have a flow, and this might include:
- asking a question,
- getting an answer, and
- then translating that answer into something you know your audience will understand and resonate with.
Remember, you’re creating your podcast for your listeners, so when you’re conversing with your guest, your entire focus should be on this question:
“How can I make this content most valuable and relevant for my listeners?”
In addition to translating answers for your listeners, making the content most valuable and relevant for your listeners might also include:
- Guiding the conversation in a new direction if it has gone off topic
- Cutting your guest off if they’re talking too much
- Continuing the conversation based off the answer given for a deeper conversation around the topic
- Adding or removing questions that are no longer relevant based on the current conversation that is unfolding
Having an interview podcast is an incredible way to connect with guests and learn from their expertise.
Always remember: while you might have a set of questions prepared ahead of time, that doesn’t mean you can’t go with the flow of the conversation to make it the best it can be for your listeners.
And on that note, let’s talk about the best ways to prepare.
How do You Prepare for a Podcast Interview?
There are several steps you can take each time you prepare, and it’s a good idea to create a system or checklist that you can refer to each time you go to hit record.
5 Steps To Prepare for an Interview
1. Guest and Topic Research
When you invite a guest on your podcast, get started by researching.
Before you invite someone on your podcast, you should have a decent amount of knowledge around:
- Who they are
- What they do
- How they can add value to your audience
- What they’re currently working / focused on
Knowing these things ahead of time will help you in guiding the conversation.
This is also a part of the process that could be delegated to a team member if you don’t feel you have sufficient time to do thorough research on every potential guest.
2. Scheduler and Intake Form
Once you’ve done your research and found someone who you know will be a great guest, your next step is to send them a scheduler link so they can book a time for the interview.
Both of these programs allow you to share a link and have someone book a time with you, plus they help you gather all info you need ahead of time from you guest via an intake form.
So if a part of your interview will be sharing:
- your guest’s bio,
- a fun fact about their childhood,
- 5 bullet points that they can talk about during the interview, and
- an image for you to use for social media and your show notes…
…you can request ALL of this prior to the interview even taking place via an intake form!
This is not only a good way to help you prepare for the interview, but it will also ensure you have everything you need to help promote the interview – saving you a ton of back and forth and time!
3. Questions to ask
Now that you’ve researched your guest and you have all the information you need via their intake form, you can start to brainstorm the questions you’ll ask throughout the interview.
We’ve got a list of 10 of the best questions to ask below, but be creative! This is your show and it should be unique to you.
4. Interview pre-chat
The interview pre-chat, which is the few minutes you have with your guest from the time you connect to the time you hit record, is a critical time.
Learn more about the best podcast editing and recording software.
For guests who might not be familiar with being interviewed, or who haven’t done podcasts before, this is a time for you to help make sure they feel comfortable.
This is also a time to do your sound checks to be sure you and your guest are coming in loud and clear. Sound quality is important when it comes to producing a great podcast interview.
Here’s an example of a pre-chat checklist:
- Hi [insert guest name], how are you doing today?
- Your audio sounds awesome, how am I coming in? (confirm this is true)
- So, let me tell you a little about the audience you will be talking to before we hit the record button. [Insert your show name] listeners are [explain the members of your audience for your guest so they understand who they are talking to].
- The interview should take about [number of minutes] from start to finish… is that ok?
- Can you confirm your name pronunciation?
- Notification sounds (remind them to turn their notification sounds off)
- Do you have your success quote ready? – Share it with me, please! (of course, this might be something different – doesn’t have to be a success quote… whatever you’re prepping your guest for, write it down so you can reference it during the interview at the appropriate time)
- Well those are all the questions I have, but I would love to answer any YOU have before we start
- Ok, let me sync up our audio, and then we’ll start!
If your guest seems nervous and you know they haven’t done many (if any) podcast interviews before, maybe tell a joke, or get them laughing and feeling comfortable before diving in.
Connecting on something you have in common before kicking off can be a good way to help someone let their guard down and feel more comfortable.
5. Test and hit record
You can never test your sound and settings too many times!
You’ve already made sure the audio is coming through clear in the pre-interview chat, and now it’s time to do one last test and hit record!
What Questions Should I Ask When Interviewing Someone?
Here is a list of 10 podcast interview questions you can reference for your podcast interviews. Remember: this is your show, and it should be unique!
Always include a question up top that will get the interview going. An icebreaker not only shares unique info about a topic or your guest so your audience can create a connection with them, but it typically allows there to be a lighter air around the interview. Unless you’re going for super serious, have fun with this question!
On Entrepreneurs On Fire, John’s icebreaker question is “Tell us something interesting about yourself most people don’t know.”
It gets the guest thinking, and because it’s something “most people don’t know” it’s typically a bit more personal and a fun way to get to know your guest.
2. “In your own words”
You never know what particular phrase or way of describing something is going to resonate with your audience, so allow your guest to share their perspective or take on a topic, strategy, or scenario in their own words.
An example might be, “In your own words, what does the phrase [insert phrase related to your topic, niche, audience] mean to you?”
3. What Keeps You up at Night?
A question that can take the conversation in any number of different directions is “What keeps you up at night?” Not only is this question revealing, but it can elicit a powerful dialogue.
4. Top Strategy
Whatever topic area you’re focused on, have your guest provide a top strategy for your listeners. This is a great data-gathering question – meaning you can easily repurpose these answers into an opt in or PDF download for your audience.
For example, Top 10 Strategies for [insert your topic or niche].
5. Your Fork in the Road
We’ve all faced a major decision in our lives (if not many) that has resulted in us choosing to take a left turn instead of going right. These are pivotal moments and can reveal a lot about your guest and their journey.
6. Worst Moment
Don’t just focus on sunshine and rainbows. Depending on your podcast topic, this question will vary.
Challenge your guest to share an experience or situation where things didn’t go as planned.
7. Lesson Learned
Now that you’ve had them share their worst moment, have them follow it up with the lesson learned from that experience or situation.
What did they do following that worst moment? What have they learned from that worst moment?
8. Favorite Quote
Quotes can bring out so many feelings, thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Have your guest share their favorite quote, whether that be personal, inspirational, motivational, or otherwise.
9. Number 1 Takeaway
More often than not your listeners have taken in a lot of information and ideas over the course of one of your episodes. A strong way to close things out is to have your guest to share the number 1 takeaway that they really want the audience to absorb.
This makes it easy for your audience and it reminds them that your guest is the expert.
10. Contact & Call To Action
Leave your audience with a way to contact your guest by having them share the best place to connect with them.
That might be something like their email address, a specific social media channel, or their website.
And finally, allow your guest time to share a call to action with your audience: what should they do next? You can also have your own call to action on the episode if you want to encourage your audience to do something more – maybe based on a specific interview question, a strategy discussed, or related to a product or service recommendation.
How Do You Ask A Question on a Podcast?
Becoming a good interviewer and asking great podcast interview questions is a practice. The best way to constantly improve is to keep doing it.
Each time you complete an interview, you should be asking yourself:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- How can I improve the next time I’m on the microphone?
When you are focused and committed to becoming better every time you get on the microphone, improvement is inevitable.
With this in mind, having question lists is a good way to make sure you have all the questions you want to get through in one place.
But remember: people want to hear stories and a good conversation, so while interview questions can and should be a guide for your episode, never sacrifice quality of conversation just because you want to get through all of your questions.
When it comes to how to ask a question on a podcast, keep these tips in mind.
- Be genuinely curious.
- Stay away from “yes” or “no” questions.
- Highlight their expertise and focus on topics you know they’re good at.
For example, instead of me asking John “Have you tried Facebook advertising before?”
A much better way to pose this would be “What’s the best marketing strategy to grow your podcast audience that you’ve tried to date?”
First, it’s very like you’re genuinely curious about his answer.
Second, it’s not a “yes” or “no” question, so it will automatically encourage a more in-depth answer that can lead to a bigger conversation.
And finally, instead of asking John a question about Facebook advertising, you’re posing the question in a way that highlights his expertise: podcast marketing.
Your Podcast Flow
As an overall rule of thumb, your questions should create and nurture a conversation. People thrive on stories, as it’s an easy way to visualize and draw connections between what is being taught and an actual human experience. Be sure to encourage your guests to share stories throughout.
An easy way to do this is to avoid yes or no questions, or at least be ready to serve a follow up question that encourages a story to go along with their answer.
Your podcast flow should be your own. Make your questions unique, and continue putting in those reps! Each time you get on the mic and have another conversation, you’ll be improving your skills. You’ve got this!
Looking for more advanced ways to improve your interview skills and grow your podcast audience? Join us in our elite podcasting community, Podcasters’ Paradise!