Everyone enjoys a great podcast interview, and in this digital era, podcasts have become a go-to source for learning about information. However, there is a lot that goes into conducting a great podcast interview.
Our step-by-step guide shows you how to conduct engaging podcast interviews—from booking the right person, to how to prepare, to how to keep it authentic and conversational.
Step 1: Choose Engaging Guests to Interview
This should be a no-brainer. But it’s fair to say that in the history of podcast interviews, there have been some non-inspiring guests. These guests are not exactly engaging. They can be dull.
You can’t just make a guest interesting through good questions. Your guest must have some charisma to start with, or else you’re in for a dry interview. The reality is that just like with compelling content, some guests are more captivating than others.
Step 2: Keep your Podcast Interview Authentic
The number one guiding rule for a great podcast interview is to be genuinely interested in what your guest has to say. Remember, authenticity and genuine interest comes through on audio.
People pick it up even on the phone. Don’t just interview someone because they’re famous or have an impressive job title. You must care about what they do and have an interest in them. If not, your listeners will pick up on this, and you’ll come across as fake. This will hurt your overall reputation and brand.
Insider tip – listen to some podcast interviews and get a feel for what’s good. Don’t be afraid to reach out to guests you’ve enjoyed listening to.
Step 3: Do Background Research on Your Podcast Guest
Research is crucial for preparing your podcast interview, and without it, you won’t be prepared. You want to go into the interview knowing about your subject. It’s not sufficient enough to just press play and learn about your guest in the discussion.
You must do some background research on your guest. Ideally, they will do their research on you too. Google them and learn from their online presence: website, blogs, social media, online articles, etc.
Insider tip – Take note of their big achievements, like winning an award, writing a book, or speaking at an event. Brainstorm and make some notes on what you find.
Step 4: Ask Probing Questions
Be like a journalist and ask probing questions that allow you to dig deep and uncover golden nuggets of information about your guest. As you do your research, you’ll naturally come up with questions about your podcast guest.
But go beyond the obvious and take a deeper and more creative approach with your questions. Make them exciting and open-ended. Keep them clear, concise, and direct. This will allow you to uncover great information. Remember, if you ask average questions, you’ll get average answers.
Insider tip – Use the journalist formula of the 5 W’s and one H to help you with formulating questions: who, what, why, when, where, and how.
Step 5: Send Your Questions to Your Guest Before the Interview
Once you’ve created your questions, it’s best to send them to your guest at least a week before you record your podcast episode. That way, they have plenty of time to prepare their responses, and if there are any questions they don’t want to be asked, they can let you know.
Sending your questions ahead of your episode will allow your guest to feel more comfortable, and this results in helping you create much better content.
Insider tip – Add the question: “Is there anything else you would like to add that hasn’t been added?” It’s a great closing question but also one that helps in further uncovering information.
Step 6: Keep Your Podcast Interview Conversational
Keeping your podcast interview conservational ensures that the conversation flows easy and there is room for flexibility. This is what great discussions are all about, after all. Even after preparing a list of questions, you still need to retain a degree of flexibility during your conversation.
We are not suggesting you go off-topic, instead allow the conversation to ebb and flow naturally so it can go to a level of depth.
Insider tip – Start your conversation with questions and allow your guest’s response to direct the discussion. If interesting points are raised, follow up, dig deeper, and try to get more information.
Step 7: Don’t Go Off-Topic Too Much
It’s easy at times to go off-topic, but when it gets too much, you need to stop and bring the conversation back on topic. Reel it back in. As the interviewer, you are the one in charge of steering the direction of the conversation.
Don’t be rude about it. Just smile, relax, and naturally bring it back on course. A great way of doing this is to throw in lines like “Let’s discuss that in another episode.”
Insider tip – Don’t ramble on about your own opinions.
Step 8: Don’t Interrupt Your Guest
Avoid interrupting your podcast guest when they are speaking. It comes across as rude and can be annoying for listeners. Of course, there are exceptions to this, as sometimes it’s necessary to interrupt your guest to get the conversation back on track.
But this is an exception and should be avoided for the most part. When you interrupt someone speaking, you disrupt the flow of the conversation, and the speaker loses their train of thought.
Insider tip – Listen to Oprah Winfrey’s Emmy award-winning podcast SuperSoul Sundays and see how she is a master of interviewing guests but also interrupting them to bring them back on track.
Step 9: Minimize All Distractions
When you invite a guest on your podcast, ensure that you have no distractions that will interfere. Even the smallest ones can make for a lousy podcast interview.
Remember things like locking your office door, silencing or turning off your phone, keeping your pet outside, and ensuring any small children are quiet or looked after.
Insider tip – Reduce and eliminate distractions the day before your podcast. And check in again a few hours before your interview goes ahead. Don’t forget to test out your equipment beforehand to ensure it’s all working correctly.
Step 10: Practice Active Listening
Don’t obsess over the next question you’re going to ask as your guest is talking. This is all too common with inexperienced podcasters. Instead, practice active listening. This is all about being fully present, listening, and allowing your guest to speak uninterrupted.
If you don’t do this, you’ll miss their point, and your response will be awkward. Rehearsing your next question in your head can help you feel more prepared, but don’t overdo it!
Insider tip – As your guest speaks, pay close attention to every word, and don’t be afraid to throw in a question that wasn’t on your list if it helps the interview.
Step 11: Study Podcast Interviews
One of the best ways to be a great podcast interviewer is to learn from others—listen to podcasts you like and perhaps even ones you don’t like. That way, you get contrast and can take notes and see what can be done better. From here, put your own unique angle on things. Don’t imitate, learn from others—but be yourself!
Insider tip – Weekly listen to 1–2 podcasts of your choice to learn from. Start with the Content Callout Podcast.
For more expert guidance on podcasting and other forms of content for your B2B book time with our team, who will help take your brand to the next level.