How to ask great interview questions

A podcasts stands or falls on its content, and if you’re interviewing experts or others, you need to make sure the interview flows well and confidently.

The tips below will help hone your interview techniques. Try practicing with a family member, using your smartphone to record the conversation and to review it. The more you do, the better you’ll get!

Book your guest well in advance
This gives you time to prepare. If your guest has written a book, read it through and mark passages you may want to discuss.

Know what you want to achieve
Prepare an outline of what you want to discuss and what end result you’re looking for. List out what you’re going to ask your interviewee, and how to get back on course if the interview digresses.

Know your interviewee:
Read their bio and use it in the interview. Make notes and have them to hand. Maybe listen to any other interviews they’ve done. Your interviewee will be much more comfortable if they know you have researched them properly.

Prepare your guest before the interview
Tell them who the listeners to your podcast are going to be, so that they can target that sector when they speak to you. Explain

Welcome your guest to your audience
Thank them and welcome them to your podcast, it will make them feel a part of the show.

Be enthusiastic!
Sound like you’re really wanting to conduct the interview – your podcast is there to promote you as a thought leader as well as your guest. Be engaged and listen to what your guest has to say.

Start with an ice breaker
Your guest will love to talk about themselves and their credentials – everyone’s favourite topic is themselves!

You could ask questions about their schooling, or a memorable story about school– let them relax and tell you a story and show their personality.

By all means use the standard “How did you get started? Where did you grow up? Why do you do what you do?”, but they have probably answered these hundreds of times.

Be original and ask a question they have NEVER been asked.

Make it a conversation, not an interrogation
Ask, listen and respond, and be guided by what your guest says, rather that sticking strictly to your question set. Imagine you are a part of your audience.

Ask open-ended questions.
Don’t ask questions that will result in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Use the 5 ‘W’s and lead your guest into the answer – ‘why..’, ‘what…’, ‘where..’, ‘when.., ‘who…’ (and ‘how’…, the ‘sixth’ W 😊). For example, ‘How did you…’, ‘Tell me why…’

Let them open up
You’ve got to give the person you’re interviewing a chance to communicate as much as possible without interruption. The more they talk—the better.

A pause in your interview is a good way to see if your guest wants to add anything – and lets them feel somewhat in control of the interview.

Ask them about further resources
Where can your listeners find out more about the subject? Websites, books, etc. It gives the guest a chance to direct listeners to their own publications as well as other places.

Thank them for their time
As well as thanking them at the end of the interview, call or email them shortly afterwards to thank them personally.

You may also like to ask them if they know anyone else you might interview – use their connections to expand your library.