Interviewing guests as a podcast host can be more difficult than it may seem. But you don’t need to worry- with these 10 podcast interview tips, you can be awesome at it! 🚀
Below we are going to walk you through everything you need to know.
After you reading this, we suggest watching or listening to some of the best, professional interviewers you know. Take notes about what you liked and what you didn’t like. Just because a method or technique works for someone, especially someone super famous, doesn’t mean it will work for you. But maybe it will! 💃
Before you know it, you’ll be the next Oprah!
Ready? Here are our 10 podcast interview tips!
10 podcast interview tips
Pick a Good Interviewee
The first, critical step is to pick a good interviewee. 🗣️
The podcast guest usually needs to have something to contribute to the topic of your show. Ideally, they are an expert in something that your content covers.
Sometimes they don’t need to be an expert on your topic though. They may just be an expert at producing awesome audio content. For example, they may be a comedian. Comedians are practiced at improv. As guests, they can make any conversation a bit funnier. 😹
But keep in mind that this kind of natural riffing is a skill. Chances are that your friend who is generally funny or a great conversationalist in real life, might not be a great fit when the recording starts and the pressure is on.
That’s why, in general, we recommend booking an expert. An expert can speak at length about what they specialize in. They can carry the load in the conversation, and more importantly, they provide content that your audience wants to hear. 🤓
Another benefit of having an expert as a podcast interviewee is that they have probably spoken about their topic quite a lot. Many experts are professors or have some kind of job that requires them to explain their expertise to the general public.
This kind of experience is invaluable when it comes to being an interviewee for podcasts. 🎙️
But keep in mind that some experts may actually be pretty terrible when asked to speak. A person can be an encyclopedia of information your audience wants, but if they can’t communicate well, your audience is going to hate it.
So before you invite one, you need to make sure they are actually good at it. 🙏
That leads us to the second of our podcast interview tips.
Listen to Other Interviews They Have Done
Like we mentioned in the above section, you want to see if the person you are thinking of interviewing is actually good at being interviewed.
The easiest way to do this is by researching any interviews or podcasts they have done in the past. 🧑💻
But that is not the only reason to listen to past interviews of them.
You want to find and listen to other interviews and public speaking engagements they have done so you are prepared to pitch them and later to interview them well. 🧑💼
When you ask a person to be a guest on your episode, you want to show that you have taken the time to learn about them. You also want to show why your episode would be a fit for them and be beneficial to their work. Check out our blog post on pitching for more info.
The research work isn’t done after they have agreed to be on your show though. To prepare well, you want to see what style they seem to work best in. For example, are they more formal or informal? 👔
If your interviews are more investigatory and hard-hitting, you want to see how they have responded to tough questions in the past. If they have been skilled at dodging tough questions, you can prepare how to make sure they don’t dodge the tough questions on your episode.
Do a Pre-Interview
A pre-interview is when you have a casual conversation with the person who will be your interview guest. ☎️
This is a great chance to learn about each other and build rapport.
It is also an opportunity for you to review your podcast structure with them so they know what to expect.
Be sure to ask them if they have any questions for you. 🤔
Also ask them if they have any preferences or ‘best practices’ based on their past experiences with being interviewed.
This conversation is also a great time to clearly lay out next steps so they are comfortable moving forward. 😀
That leads us to the fourth item on our podcast interview tips list.
Create a List of Questions
Probably one of the most important, if not the most important, job when you prepare for interviews is creating a list of interview questions. 📋
Usually it is best to develop a list of questions and then send them to the interviewee. That way they can suggest any changes or additions that need to be made. It will also help them prepare for the interview.
You do not need to stick to the questions, word by word, when you do the actual interview. You probably want it to sound like more of a natural conversation to your listeners. 🎧
The purpose of list of questions is to make sure that all the content the people listening in will want to hear is covered. It can be easy to start to get distracted once the interview starts, so the written questions will help both the guest and the host make sure they don’t forget anything.
You want to start your interview by introducing your guest. That is why it is a good idea to write out an introduction you can read when recording. ✍️
At min, you want it to be about two sentences. At max, it shouldn’t be longer than a paragraph.
The role of an introduction is to explain your listeners why you chose this person to be on your show. 💁
Concretely, this means you should say their job or title, their accomplishments, and anything else that is interesting and related to the content of the episode.
Prepare Interview Ending
Just as important as a good introduction, a good ending helps your the folks listening to your show get more value out of your interviews.
Usually your listeners are going to want to know where else they can learn more about the person and what they covered. That means an excellent wrap-up will include the guest’s website and/or social media. 🌎
Besides giving your audience information about how they can keep up with the person you just interviewed, an interview ending should help keep things crisp and high-quality.
You don’t want the end of the interview to drag out or be full of a lot of “umms” and “wells.” The people who are listening might turn off the episode early or even stop following altogether.
Preparing how you’ll end the interview doesn’t take much time and it will really help retain your audience! 👯
Make the Technical Easy
One of the most common problem areas for doing podcasting interviews is the technology. This can be especially true if your are doing a video podcast.
To prepare, double and triple check all your equipment. Do a test run with a friend if possible. 💻
Create a checklist ahead of time so you don’t forget any technical steps you need to take to get the best audio and video quality possible.
Most importantly, make the technical part easy for your guest. They should only have to click one or two buttons on their end in order to get the audio and video working. 📹
If the technical part is difficult, your guest may become flustered and then it is difficult to conduct a quality interview with them. 😳
Speaking of conducting a quality interview, that leads us to the next stop on our podcast interview tips journey.
Let Your Guest Be the Focus
It can be tempting to feel like you have to add your two cents to everything your guests say. However, this can end up just sounding awkward and make your listeners uncomfortable.
Always keep this rule of thumb in mind: Your guest is the focus of your show. 🔦
Any host comments or questions should be made in order to bring the attention back to the person being interviewed.
If you, as the interview host, really feel like you want to make a statement, consider framing it as a question to your guest.
For example, if you disagree with one of your guest’s answers, try to ask something like “That’s interesting you say that because I always heard it framed differently. Do you have people push back on that idea? What do you say to them?” 😎
Ask Good Follow-Up Questions
The key to excellent interviews is follow up questions. This takes a lot of skill, preparation, and active listening.
Active listening is when you as the interviewer are really present for the interviewee’s answer. 🧘
It can be easy to tune out and start thinking about your next question. Resist the temptation! 😈
Really listen to your interviewee and ask follow up questions if their answer was lacking or if you thinking they barely touched on something interesting.
For example, if your guest gives what you feel is an incomplete answer, rather than adding to it yourself, ask something like “you briefly mentioned something interesting there that I would love for you to dive into more.”
Another way to phrase these kind of follow-ups is to say something like “I think our listeners would really want to know…”
Remember, as a host it is your job to facilitate the conversation, to steer the boat. The end goal is to create an episode your followers will find value in. 🚢
Send a Thank You Note
The grand finale of our podcast interview tips: Sending thank you notes is important! 💌
First of all, sending a thank you note is just the right thing to do. Most likely, your guest provided their time and content for free so thanking them is the least you can do.
Also, you may want to invite them back on your podcast in the future so you want to keep that relationship strong. Or you may want to invite one of their colleagues on the show and a thank you note might help give you a good reputation for that. 💪
A thank you note is also great way to ensure cross promotion.
As you can read more about in our blog post dedicated to cross promotion, an interviewee can be wonderful for podcasting cross promotion. The interviewee can share their episode with their followers, thus increasing your audience. 🔀
In the thank you note, include a link (or better yet, an Ausha Smartlink) that they can use to share the episode with their community. Also consider including information like your podcast website, social media, etc.
Now that we have given you our podcast interview tips, go forth and do amazing podcasting! 👩🚀
Interviewing is one of those things where experience does make you better. Prepare as best you can and then just go for it.
Afterwards, if you are brave, listen to your interviews and take notes on what you could improve. 🕵
And of course, hire a great editor who will make both you and your guest sound great! Or if you are your own editor, don’t skimp out on cleaning up the interview.
So the only question left is: Who is going to be your lucky first guest! 🤩
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