Whether you are starting a new podcast or building an existing one, a quality interview always
makes for a good episode. By bringing on guests, you can expose your audience to new
perspectives and add an element of variety to your show.
However, creating interview podcasts is not easy. An influential or unique guest is a great asset,
but the quality of an interview is dependent on the quality of preparation.
Preparation for conducting an interview takes time. You need to understand the purpose of your
interview, have a proper set up, and develop a plan and questions before considering recording.
If you follow these steps, any interview podcast can run smoothly. To skip ahead to a section,
here is a table of contents:
- What’s The Purpose Of An Interview Podcast?
- How To Interview Your Guest
What’s The Purpose Of An Interview Podcast?
Like any episode, the purpose is entertainment and education. The reason why interview
podcasts are so successful is because through a guest, both should be attainable.
On the list of priorities, education should come first. Establishing your guest’s credibility and
letting them talk about experience is the primary goal of an interview podcast. Your interview
should result in your listeners learning something new or seeing something from a new
After covering education, you can focus on entertainment. This will mostly be drawn from
personalities, but a good question should be interesting enough to be entertaining without
Gaining listeners is the goal, and with a focused purpose, interview podcasts can be a great
Different Types of Interviews On Podcasts
Different types of guests call for different types of interviews. Obviously, every person is unique.
However, more often than not, you can classify an interview guest in one of three categories.
1. Interviewing Field Experts
A “field expert” is someone who has made a career either involved in or studying the topic at
hand. These types of guests have plenty of relevant personal stories and a wide range of advice
or insights regarding a topic. An example would be a certified public accountant talking about
changes in the profession.
When interviewing a field expert, the goal is to bring out as much information as possible. Given
that the guest has had a lot of experience, you should be able to cover many aspects of the
Questions should be probing and focus on different themes within the field. Offer as much
information to your audience as you can.
2. Interviewing Eyewitnesses
An “eyewitness” is someone with particularly good insights into one event or situation. For
example, interviewing a former employee of Enron or Wells Fargo, someone who witnessed a
These types of guests have less general experience and insights, but a very good grasp on one
topic. This means your episode should be almost entirely focused on that one topic.
For an eyewitness interview, consider asking multiple questions that go in-depth on just one or
two themes. An episode like this will be applicable to less people, but more interesting for those
curious about a specific topic.
3. Interviewing Influencers
An “influencer” is somebody with a large following, like an actor or a life coach.
These types of episodes are less focused on a topic and more focused on the guest. The goal is
to give the guest a platform to voice their opinions and advice on multiple topics. The more
personality you can pull out of an influencer, the better the episode will be.
Questions should be particularly open-ended. Rather than leading the conversation towards a
goal, the guest should be free to talk about almost anything. If you highlight the guest, your
audience will be happy.
Equipment For Podcast Interviews
The equipment necessary for a podcast interview is minimal. You will need four things: a
microphone, a video conferencing platform, something to record the meeting, and audio editing
Even if your guest does not have a microphone of their own, having one for yourself will make
every episode better. Blue Yeti produces popular low-cost microphones, but there are plenty of
The most important thing to do before buying a microphone is to make sure it has a connection
you can use. XLR and USB are the two most common plug-ins. Most computers have a USB
port, so USB is preferred by beginners.
We’ve produced an in-depth article for podcast equipment
Next, you will need a video conferencing platform to hold your interview on. Recently, Zoom has
been one of the most popular options, alongside Skype and Google Meet. Through one of these
platforms, you can set up a meeting and invite your guests.
One of the most common mistakes of an interview podcast is forgetting to record the audio.
Most video conferencing platforms have an option to automatically record meetings, and this will
be the easiest way to record and save your audio.
The final piece of podcast equipment m you will need is audio editing software to mix and refine your audio.
There are lots of options, and the process can be difficult. The best method is to choose one
audio editing software and stick to it. The more you use it, the better you will get. Do you have audio, but you need to clean up you podcast audio?
Here is an article on popular audio editing software: Adam Enfroy – 15 Best Audio Editing Software of 2022
How To Interview Your Guest
After recognizing your purpose and setting up, it is time to prepare for your guest.
One of the most common mistakes for an interview podcast is letting the episode devolve into a
sales pitch. Your guest most likely has a reason for wanting their name out there and will circle
back to self-promotion if given the chance. A small amount of self-promotion from your guest is
encouraged, but too much will be annoying for the listeners.
This is one reason why preparation is important. If you have your content and questions set
before the episode, the interview will stay focused and palatable regardless of the guest.
To fully prepare yourself and your guest, put some time into the following steps.
Research Your Guest and Subject
For an interview podcast, research is the most important piece of preparation. A general
understanding of your guest will lead to a more personalized episode and prevent accidental
triggers or discomfort.
Read any books, articles, or blogs the guest has published. This will give you a basic
understanding of their thought processes and opinions and will be a useful reference throughout
Next, look up their LinkedIn and social media profiles. Take notes on accomplishments, titles,
interests, and hobbies. Knowing what your guest has accomplished can help you gauge how
technical your questions should be. On top of that, interests and hobbies are a good safety net
when the conversation gets slow.
The final step is to simply Google your guest. Note what search results pop up first and try to
find any additional information.
If you still feel unprepared, reach out to your guest and ask for a resume or a meeting before
recording. Most guests want their episode to be quality and will be more than willing to help.
Prepare The Introduction
After researching your guest, you can get to work on their introduction. For an interview
podcast, the introduction should cover four things: engage the audience, establish your guest’s
credibility, summarize the episode, and loosen up your guest.
The method for engaging the audience is different for every podcast. Build on whatever
strengths you have, whether it be humor, relatability, or intelligence, and try to “hook” the
audience with something interesting.
Establishing your guest’s credibility will help the audience stay invested. Introduce your guest
with their titles and accomplishments. By emphasizing awards or achievements, you can help
your guest feel more confident while also building their credibility.
After introducing your guest, briefly summarize what you will be talking about. This will let
listeners know what to expect and keep negative feedback to a minimum.
Finally, try to loosen up your guest. Many interview podcasts will start with a casual
conversation. Bring up their interests and hobbies to give them something easy to talk about. If
you can get your guest to talk naturally in the introduction, it becomes easy to carry that into the
Prepare Your Guest
Before recording, your guest will appreciate being able to prepare themselves. Typically, an
interview podcast is dominated by the guest, and giving them some time to prepare will let them
organize their thoughts.
Here is the major information you should provide to your guest:
1. Podcast Format
Provide the general plan of the episode, from introduction to questions to conclusion. This way,
the guest knows what to expect throughout the recording.
2. Typical Listeners
Provide the demographics of your listeners. If your guest knows who is listening, they can adjust
their answers to cater to that audience.
3. Methods of Promotion
Provide the plan for promoting the episode. Before any marketing, you need to ensure that the
guest is ok with where and how the episode is being promoted.
4. Potential Questions
Provide the guest with ideas for what you want to talk about, then ask for their opinion. This will
help you write questions that the guest is excited to answer and avoid uncomfortable topics.
You should do this before writing your actual questions. Generally, providing finalized questions
is a bad idea. Listeners will be able to tell the difference between a natural response and a
Write Your Interview Questions
An interview podcast is only as good as its questions. These will provide the themes of your
episode and need to be interesting for both your guest and your listeners.
Good questions are relevant and open-ended, meaning that they are relevant to your guest and
topic and the question does not have a clear answer.
One strategy for writing questions is to start with a statement about your guest’s experience or
accomplishments, then follow it up with a “how” or a “why” question. Here is an example of a
open-ended and relevant question:
Ex: Congratulations on being listed on this year’s Fortune 40 Under 40 list. I understand
this was for your work as CFO. How much does your life outside of work factor into your
success as a CFO?
On the other hand, leading and yes or no questions should be avoided. Leading questions
encourage one response over another and are viewed as unprofessional. Yes or no questions
can lead to awkward silences and shorten the episode run time.
Here is an example of a leading question:
Ex: Based on the rising crime rates in Detroit, would you say that the police are failing to
perform their duty?
Here is an example of a yes or no question:
Ex: You worked in retail for many years, would you say that your pay was appropriate for
the level of work you were doing?
Write down as many relevant, open-ended questions as you can, then narrow down your
questions to a short list.
After drafting this list, they can be vetted through a short two-question test.
1. How would you answer this question?
If you find that you can answer a question easily and without elaboration, then that question is
poor. Your guest should be doing most of the talking, so your questions need to be complex
enough to justify a long answer.
2. Is this question relevant to the topic?
All questions are directed at the guest, but the point of the interview is the listeners. Write out
your list of topics to cover and make sure that your questions are relevant to that list. By staying
on topic, listeners will be able to follow along clearly.
If the questions on your list passed the two-question test above, they are good to use.
This marks the end of your preparation. With background research, an introduction, and
questions on hand, you are ready to record. Don’t forget to do a podcast transcription for a more accessible interview podcast. Good luck!
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