If you’re starting a podcast and you’re new to conducting interviews, you’re likely nervous about what questions to ask. When your entire episode hinges on the guest-host dynamic, it can feel like there’s a lot riding on your podcast questions.
Fortunately, you can avoid awkward conversations when you come prepared with a thoughtful strategy. As a host, you’ll want to start by establishing a connection with your guest. That way, you can ask the hard-hitting questions later.
In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of carefully selecting your podcast interview questions. Then, we’ll provide you with some of the best podcast questions and interview advice. Let’s get started!
Why Asking the Right Podcast Interview Questions Is So Important
Asking the right questions is crucial if you want your podcast to do well. You’ll need to be innovative, professional, and prepared in order to produce an entertaining (and valuable) interview. Each podcast will have its own unique theme, so the possibilities for interview dynamics are vast.
Still, chances are you’ll only get one chance to record your podcast with each guest. Therefore, you wouldn’t want to squander your opportunity.
Additionally, a nicely structured interview can help you write excellent show notes, which will generate useful content for your episode archives:
If you don’t already have a library of episodes, a tool like Podcastpage.io can help you create one. Our website builder is designed with podcasts in mind.
It even comes with a timestamp option which enables listeners to choose where to start the episode from or jump between segments easily with a simple click. This is yet another reason to ensure that your interviews have a cohesive structure, guided by strong questions.
5 Podcast Interview Questions to Engage Listeners and Guests
The same questions won’t work for everyone. Therefore, we’ve decided to provide you with a podcast interview template, rather than a podcast questions list. Let’s look at how you can engage your listeners and guests with interesting interviews.
If you have many guests or other participants in your podcasts, you’ll be stoked to learn that with Podcastpage, you can easily include Guest Intake Forms and then create Guest Profile Pages automatically. This is a super useful tool to automate your guests or other participants like hosts.
You can see an example of such a form on The Unnoticed Entrepreneur podcast website (powered by Podcastpage.io). Then all of their prior guests are listed on a dedicated “Guests” page, each one linking to a separate guest profile page.
Now, we can continue and explore examples for questions and methods that’ll help you conduct interviews on your podcast –
1. Icebreaker Questions
Starting with an icebreaker is essential. Even if you’re interviewing someone you know well, they may be a little nervous. Alternatively, you could be anxious about interviewing one of your heroes:
Let’s take a look at some icebreaker questions that may sound cliché, but can do a lot to help set up a successful interview:
- How are you? Your guest is a real person, so they’ll appreciate being treated like one. If you start abruptly, it could come off as rude. Remember, you can edit out this part later if needed.
- Can you introduce yourself to the listeners? This is a creative way to gauge how self-aware your guests are. Depending on the answer, you may think of some interesting follow-ups to ask.
- What do you do and why? This comes from Buzzfeed’s mega-hit, Another Round. It might work well if you sense that your guest appreciates deeper questions.
- Keep it light! Another example we like is to start the show (or finish) with a random, funny or unexpected question. We really liked such shows like the “Magic Mic” podcast where Bharaht (the host) asks the same question – “What did you have for breakfast today?” to all guests – that’s just something listeners can look forward too and just loosen things up a little bit.
Ultimately, your first question will depend on your existing relationship with the guest and the subject of your podcast. Regardless, establishing a rapport can help set the right tone.
2. Background Questions
Now you’re ready to start asking some specific background questions. In order to do this successfully, you’ll need to have done your research.
At this point, your aim is to further contextualize your guest’s journey or expertise. If you found something interesting while reading their biography or body of work, this would be a good time to ask them about it:
For instance, you could ask an author about their latest book. The key here is to ask specific questions and show them that you’re genuinely interested in their work.
This can help reduce the pressure and encourage them to loosen up. Moreover, asking pointed questions will show them that you’ve taken this interview seriously by coming prepared.
3. Industry or Niche-Focused Questions
After getting some background information from your guest, you can steer the conversation towards more thought-provoking questions about their industry. This is when your podcast topic will come into play:
Hopefully, your guest is now relaxed and excited to share some juicy information with your listeners. For example, it’s common to hear industry leaders talk about how they’ve become successful.
Therefore, you could ask some questions like:
- What advice would you give to someone who’s just getting started (in your industry)?
- How have you adapted to changes in your industry?
- What’s the hardest part about your job?
Again, these questions are generalized. However, you can customize them to your specific theme or topic.
4. Personal Questions
Highly personal questions may not always be appropriate. However, when compared to other mediums, podcasts have always leaned towards intimacy.
In fact, people feel an elevated sense of closeness with hosts when listening to a podcast via headphones. This may be partly why it’s common for people to open up more than they would on visual platforms.
If things are going well in your interview, you can ask some hard-hitting questions, such as:
- What motivates you?
- What has been your greatest failure, and how did you recover?
- What’s your biggest regret?
Keep in mind that you never want to cross certain boundaries. It’s best to stay on-topic and personalize questions depending on how comfortable your guest is.
5. Closing Questions
Ideally, every podcast interview should come to a natural end. However, if you don’t facilitate this, your listeners may notice the sudden wrap-up. Therefore, closing questions are just as important as icebreakers:
To end your interview nicely, you can ask any of the following questions:
- What’s next for you?
- What upcoming project are you excited about?
- Is there any question that you wish I’d asked you?
Additionally, it’s always courteous to thank your guests. You may also want to give them a moment to share any social media handles or tell your listeners where and how they can follow their work.
How to Make Your Guest Comfortable Before the Recording
It’s important to ensure that your guest remains comfortable throughout the interview. However, you can also try to make them feel at ease before you even start recording. Here are a few tips to help you do this:
- Send interview questions beforehand: Nervous guests may feel more relaxed if they already know what you’re going to ask them.
- Check out previous interviews your guest has done: This can help you get a sense of how they react and understand how to make them feel at home.
- Start recording immediately: This gives you the opportunity to explain to your guest that you can edit out whatever is necessary.
- Have backup equipment: Mentioning that you’re extra prepared can help build trust.
Ultimately, the best way to make your guest comfortable is by providing an open line of communication. Therefore, you’ll also want to encourage them to reach out about any doubts they may have.
Interviewing podcast guests can be stressful. As a host, you’ll need to facilitate an engaging and valuable conversation that your listeners will enjoy. Luckily, with a little preparation, you can get your visitors to speak candidly about their expertise or journey.
In this post, we looked at some good podcast questions to ask your guests. You can start with an icebreaker, like “How are you?” or “What do you do?”. Then, you can ask them about their background, profession, and personal life. Finally, you can wrap up with a question about their future plans and projects.
Do you have any questions about interviewing people for your podcast? Let us know in the comments section below!