7 Tips to Conduct a Great Podcast Interview

7 Tips to Conduct a Great Podcast Interview

This is a guest article by Elaine Appleton GrantCEO and co-founder of Podcast Allies.


Podcast Interview Tips

Working on interview questions for your podcast? Following are a handful of tips I tell clients!

But first, let’s get clear about what an interview is and what it is not. 

Although good interviews sound fun and spontaneous, these are not off-the-cuff conversations. Winging it with little or no prep will not give you the results you need. It is important to realize that interviews are not everyday conversations, even though we strive for a conversational style. 

They’re also not the result of sticking to your list of questions like a robot. Sure, you want to get make sure you get your important questions answered. And you want to listen very keenly, with a great deal of curiosity, and follow the story. An interview is a planned conversation with a destination, but it also needs to be an authentic back-and-forth discussion, in most cases. 

Here are seven practical tips that you can begin working with today. 



1. Don’t ask compound questions!

Guests don’t know which question to answer when asked multiple questions. Always ask them one at a time.



2. Ask questions that elicit stories!

Some good prompts are:

  • Take me to the moment…
  • Describe the day when…
  • Where were you when…
  • What had just happened and how did you feel?
  • What did you do next?

A story answers the questions “what happened?” “And then what happened?” “And then…?” Specificity and examples make conversations engaging and practical, and provide much-needed credibility. When guests reply with generalities, always dig for examples. 



3. How high are the stakes?

When thinking about questions, ask “What does the subject want or need, and what will happen if they fail?”



4. What obstacles does the subject face?



5. Ask about challenges and failures, not just successes and potential

It’s the challenges/obstacles/failure stories that build credibility and engagement. Essentially, “How did you slay that dragon when it looked like all hope was lost?”



6. If a guest talks about someone (mother, boss, etc.), ask them to describe that person and what they mean to them



7. Most importantly: why does this topic matter to your listeners?

The higher the tension/urgency, the greater the stakes, and the more compelling the interview. Don’t forget to state explicitly to your listeners why this conversation matters. 




Thanks to Elaine Appleton Grant for writing this guest article. Follow Elaine on PodchaserTwitter and listen to Degrees, a Podcast Allies production. She’s the CEO and co-founder of Podcast Allies, a training, consulting, and production company specializing in public-radio quality audio storytelling. Podcasting courses are available on their website now.