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how to conduct a podcast interview

Would you like to start interviewing guests on your podcast, but you’re crippled by a lack of confidence or you don’t how to go about it?

Do you look at a podcast interview as something intimidating … like … going on a job interview?

While this is an obstacle that many face, the truth is, it doesn’t have to be.  Truth of the matter is, you’re only intimidated by the idea because you wonder … “what could I ask my guest?”  When in reality, there’s one thing you can do to make this process easier on yourself.


A Guest On Your Podcast Is Like A Job Interview (Except You’re Conducting The Interview)

Let’s for a moment think about the flip side – where you are getting interviewed…

Have you ever had a job that you really wanted to get?  Maybe it was for the financial benefits or the vacation time?

You begin to imagine all the great opportunities that lie ahead of you on this new job, but only one obstacle stands in your way…


So what can you do to make sure everything goes smoothly and you come out on the other end of that interview with a new job?  Do you wing it and think … “let’s just see how this goes?”

Are you on the other end of the spectrum where you’re completely terrified about screwing up?

If you are in either of these mindsets, the reason you feel either way is because you’re unprepared.

Circling back to you being the one who conducts the interview (you’re not off the hot seat, yet!) … being unprepared as the interviewer (or the interviewee) can lead to a very poor view that others have of you.

So how do you make sure you’re prepared?

You may recognize the name – Barbara Walters.  She’s a very well known journalist and has mastered her craft over the years especially when it comes to getting the most out of the people she’s interviewing.  Barbara’s key to success always points back to doing your homework on the individual.

As quoted from ABC News, Barbara says,

“Well, the first thing I tell anybody who’s going to be doing interviews is homework,” Walters said of her interview preparation. “I do so much homework, I know more about the person than he or she does about himself.”


Podcast Preparation Makes Everyone Comfortable

Okay, so this isn’t an actual job interview.  In fact, the tables are turned because you’re the one asking the questions.

Except … which questions are you asking?  Stumped?  Don’t worry, this will all makes sense soon.

If you are already podcasting with guests, chances are you think those interviews went … well … they sucked, right?

You are about to have a guest on your show and you don’t have a clue where to begin or what to ask them.

You know the listeners of your show are going to feel disappointed by the lack of quality questions in your podcast episode, your guest is definitely not going to want to work with you in the future, and you are losing confidence as to whether or not you are going in the right direction with your podcast interviews.


Overcoming An Overwhelmed State of Mind 

So now you need to pick yourself back up and try again, but this time you’re going to do things correctly and with a plan so you don’t put yourself in these uncomfortable situations.

With the podcasts I’ve done with Gary Vaynerchuk or Pat Flynn, I often get asked on how I come up with questions for the guest I have on my show.

People seem to like to hear what the guests have to say on my show and with the way everything just seems to flow, makes it easy for the listener to learn from my guest.

Do you think this is by accident?

Remember, whenever you podcast with a guest, people are interested in hearing what the guest has to say … not you. 

So in order to get the most out of your guest, so you can have your listeners telling you that they really enjoyed the interview … you need to follow the five question formula.


The Five Question Formula

Prior to deciding the guest you would like to have on your show, you need to make sure that the information they can provide in your interview aligns with the content you already talk about on your podcast.

We want the show to make sense for your listeners, right?  Right!

So once you’ve decided who you would like to have on your show and they’ve agreed to be a guest … it’s now time to come up with a list of five questions to ask them.

These five questions are going to be tailored to what your guest has the most knowledge in.  If you don’t already know your guest well (if you haven’t been following them, I suggest you do so), you’ll have to do your research on them to make sure your questions align with what they know and what your audience is accustomed to learning.

While that may sound like a complicated process, it’s not as difficult when you write these questions down.  Writing them down will let you know immediately whether or not it’s valuable to your listeners and even whether or not it’s something your guest can answer.


No ‘Um’s’ or ‘Uh’s’ or ‘Dead Air’

By compiling these five questions, your podcast interview is going to sound so much better to your listener and your guest is going to feel a lot more comfortable with you. They will get the sense that you know what you’re doing.  If you come off that way to them, you’ll come off that way to your listener, and that’s a win-win for everybody involved.

Not to mention, by having this list of five questions, we’re not going to have to hear, “um”, “uh”, or dead air, which is just the worst in any public speaking format.

If that’s what you hear when you listen back to your current podcast interviews, you know it’s definitely time to start researching your guests in the future and write down these five questions to ask them in your interview.

The best part of writing down your interview questions is you will never wonder … “what can I ask?”  There’s no grey areas here … everything is black and white, right in front of you.


No More Wondering … Is My Podcast Interview Long Enough? 

Since I always follow this format with my own podcast, my episodes always run between 25 – 40 minutes which is the average length of a solid podcast.

The five question format will remove so many headaches for you … if you remember to do this every single time that you want to interview a guest on your show.

You’ll notice at times that your podcast might be a little longer than expected because when those five researched questions tie directly to your guest’s knowledge, they will talk at great length on the subject matter because it’s important to them.  People like sharing what they know.  It’s human nature.


What Questions Do I Ask? 

Now while I can’t tell you exactly what questions to ask your guest, I can give you bullet points on how to decide what questions provoke the most lengthy responses.

In the grand scope of podcast interviews … you want your guest to talk as long as possible with you just keeping the flow of the show going from one question to another.

So, let’s say you’ve researched your guest.  Have you done that yet?


Here’s what you’ll want to keep in mind:


1.  Is this a question they’ve been asked multiple times over?

If your guest has been asked a similar or identical question over and over, chances are that they are most likely tired of answering it and will likely give you a pretty quick response.  That’s not what you want.  You want long responses to the point where they are almost ranting on the topic.  Passion connects with your listeners.

That’s why it’s important to research your guest to determine what questions to ask by checking out other interviews they’ve done or answers they’ve provided to their own communities.


2.  Are you asking a question that you want or what your listeners would want?

Now’s not the time for you to use your podcast as your own personal soap box to get your questions answered.  You’re conducting this interview to help your listeners.

If your listener can’t receive any benefit from the question … throw it out.  I mean it.  Don’t put yourself in a position where your reader is going to smell out your self serving question.  It will just stink like a foot locker.  You might even lose a listener, so just don’t do it.


3.  Are you finding opportunities for follow up questions to your guests response?

You have your list of five questions to ask in the podcast interview.  However, there are certain times during the recording where you’re going to have opportunities for follow up questions based off of what your guest is saying.

For example, they may say something like, “I’ve had great success doing [insert success here]”. What you could do is ask, “what did you do to make said ‘thing’ a success?”

Even though it’s not a part of your base questions, it helps to keep the interview flowing and allows you then to transition easier to the next question without the loss of fluidity to the interview.

That’s why I like to keep a notepad near me during the interview and make a little note to myself based upon what the guest is saying so I can insert a follow up question if necessary.

Follow up questions won’t always be necessary if the guest covered the response at great length, but it’s definitely helpful and valuable to get more out of them if the response is a little shorter than expected.


Email Your Questions To Your Guest Beforehand 

This was something I learned back from my interview with Brian Clark.  All Brian did was ask if I could send him the interview questions prior to coming on the show.

This is perfect because now you and your guest are on the same page.  There’s no confusion as to what questions are coming or the format of the show.

This puts everyone at ease and now you can just enjoy the conversation you and your guest have.  If you and your guest are enjoying the conversation, so will your listeners of the show.

I highly recommend you do this prior to your podcast interview … your guest will thank you!


Removing The Fear Of Podcast Interviews 

As we wrap things up here, most of us I’m sure know that public speaking is the number one fear amongst people.

While you’re not giving a keynote presentation in front of an actual crowd … you’re still doing a form of public speaking and that in itself is no small feat.

So give yourself a pat on the back for facing a fear that is a debilitating to many people in this world.

Understand that your interviews will get better over time as it does take practice and preparation, as cheesy as that sounds.

So … you’ve made it to the end of this post, which means you’re clearly serious about improving your abilities as a podcast interviewer and you’re ready to start putting the advice into practice.  So get to it and let me know how it goes!

If you have a podcast or you’re looking to start one … and you found this post valuable, please sign up to learn about a course I’m producing called Podcast Seminar.