As an aspiring podcaster, you are probably quite familiar with the concept of the podcast interview. Your favourite podcaster hops on the show with a special guest, and spends the episode going over topics in detail that said guest has extensive knowledge on.
Some of these interviews may seem like casual conversation, which is the perfect end goal when done right. However, behind the scenes lurks a ton of preparation from both the host and the interviewees to bring their audience the best interview possible. A great Q&A is more than just reading questions off a notepad, so let’s take a look at how to interview someone for a podcast and crush it every time.
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Why Host a Podcast Interview?
You might think your show revolves around you as a host, but podcast interviews are great ways to learn and delve deep into your industry. Not only do you get to learn from someone with experience, but you can position yourself as an expert in your field by aligning yourself with other knowledgeable folks.
Hosting interviews is a great way to grow your podcast audience. When you invite guests on your show, they will likely promote the interview to their own followers, thus increasing your reach organically.
Theoretically, you can invite anyone you want on your show, so reaching out to potential guests is a good way to increase your network, particularly with people you admire.
Choose Your Guests Wisely
If you’re bringing a new name to your show, you want to give your audience a reason to hear their voice.
You can steer the conversation a certain way, but you can’t control everything your interviewee says. One way to guarantee an interesting interview is to pick a guest you are genuinely interested in. Finding someone who knows a topic intimately that you and your audience are curious about will translate into great content, as you are genuinely learning and exchanging in a meaningful manner.
Finding a good person to interview could be as simple as asking a friend, or you can do some online creeping until you find the perfect candidate. Instagram is a good place to start, where you can browse niche-specific hashtags to find trending topics and people in your industry. If you have a following already, you could put out a call for podcast guests and see who contacts you.
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How to Interview Someone for a Podcast
1. Do Your Research
Knowing the basics of your guest won’t give you that juicy content your audience wants to hear. Taking the time to actually know your guest beyond a quick Google search of their name will go a long way.
For example, if your guest has written a book, take the time to read it. This might seem like a lengthy commitment, but if you find an audiobook version, you can listen on the go. You want your content to be unique and to the point. Especially when you only have a limited time to probe your interviewee’s brain.
2. Prepare Some Questions
An interview shouldn’t feel like your guest is in the hot seat, answering rapid-fire questions about their life’s work. You want things to flow naturally. But having an idea of certain topics or questions you want to explore will give more form to the conversation.
You don’t want to be strict or detailed with this list. Stressing over it could derail a perfectly natural conversation. Don’t be afraid of veering off-topic a bit, because these genuine forms of exchange will add life to the show. Naturally, you should try to keep the questions somewhat in line with your topic.
There are a number of considerations you should have when preparing your question list, including:
- Your audience desires: What brings your followers to your show?
- Your podcast guest’s expertise: What do they have to share with your audience?
- The relationship between the two: What can your guest offer your particular audience? What will capture their interest most?
The questions you prepare shouldn’t be things that guests are asked all the time, like how did you find your path or what inspires you. You want to come up with questions that bring value to your audience by drawing out your interviewee’s insights in a way your audience will appreciate.
Sometimes funky questions like what’s the best meal you’ve ever had or what animal would best describe you can start off the interview on a fun note, breaking the ice and setting up a nice dynamic between host and guest, allowing you to transition into the real content naturally. These types of questions can sometimes bring up a story, which is perfect for an auditory medium like podcasting.
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3. Break the Ice
Let’s expand on the idea of breaking the ice. Get acquainted with your podcast guest before sitting down for the actual interview. You can send out a few questions ahead of time for your guest to answer before recording day to get to know them a little more and go over any potential topics the two of you can discuss. Setting up a time to chat beforehand can allow the two of you to get friendly before going live, making it less awkward and more convivial when you hit record.
This could be your guest’s first podcast interview, so try your best to make them comfortable on the mic. How can you help them? You can go over the podcasting process with them. Also, make sure to let them know there are no wrong things to say when you have the power of audio editing on your side.
4.Respond to Your Guest
Most people hear rather than actually listen, more focused on giving a reply that suits themselves instead of the person they are speaking with. This is the number one thing to avoid when interviewing someone for a podcast. Rather than sticking to your pre-planned question list, you should respond to your guest’s answers, like a natural conversation. Any unnatural attempts to steer a reply a certain way will come across as awkward when you are listening back to the audio.
Organizing A Podcast Interview
Not everyone you invite to your show will say yes. You might have to send out several invites before you even get a maybe, so it’s best to keep track of everyone using a program like Google Sheets or Airtable. You can track your invite statuses, fill out guest information, schedule recording dates, and just see everything on track.
For organizing meeting times, you might have to juggle different elements like time differences or work schedules. Calendly allows you to organize everything in one convenient place, allowing guests to see your schedule and pick a time that best suits you both.
|Let’s look at a tangible example|
|It’s Yvonne again! When I am searching for podcast interviewees, I usually look in two places: LinkedIn and Instagram. I often send out an introduction message on either platform, something super short and sweet.
When I reached out to @marcgutman, the founder of WildStory, this is what I wrote:
Hi Marc, I run a podcast that is all about branding. It’s called the Branding Lab Podcast where I talk to branding strategists and entrepreneurs about building a brand. I was wondering if you’d be interested in learning more and potentially be interviewed? The idea actually came from my own struggles launching my own brand and I thought, if I am asking all these questions, others must be too! So I decided to talk about it.
He answered and gave me his email asking for more information. So I sent a follow-up email.
|Subject: Let’s Talk about Branding | Podcast Invitation|
I wanted to send you a follow-up email from our chat on Instagram. I would be honored if you would be able to schedule some time to come on to my podcast, The Branding Lab.
What’s the gist of the Branding Lab Podcast, you ask?
Well, there are a lot of podcasts out there. And a lot of content. I totally realize this, so my vision in creating The Branding Lab Podcast was to create a space for honest, informative, and open conversations with individuals who are creating and designing the brands we love and interact with every. single. day. If you want to hear a couple of episodes, you can find them here.
In fact, the idea came from the questions I had (and still have) while building my own brand, Now in Rio Swim, a sustainable ethical swimwear label.
I want this to be more than just a coffee chat: I really want to get into the nitty-gritty of branding, the bare bones. And I want you to know that I absolutely welcome you to use this to build your business: if you have a signature skill or can teach the listeners something, let’s bring that to them. I’m ALL about some live-workshop-style training on the podcast.
If you are still interested in participating, here’s the link to the interview calendar. You pick the day and time that works best for you, provide your headshot, bio, and your teaching topic.
I’ll follow up with some more prep info for you 3-4 days prior to your interview.
Why does this matter?
Your introduction email is THE place where you can connect with a potential podcast interviewee. Make sure that you are clear on what your podcast is about while also explaining the tone, target audience, and format. It is also important to include links to previous episodes. Why? Well, the potential guest knows, the more comfortable he or she will be to say YES to the interview.
The above email ends by stating that more information will be sent to the guest 3-4 days prior to the interview. This pre-interview email is meant to fully prepare your guest. It is a way to make them feel at ease and help them feel prepared. Nothing spoils a podcast interview faster than a host that is disorganized and a guest that feels ill-prepared.
Some important information to highlight in that pre-interview email include:
- What type of equipment the guest should have (headphones are a must, and a microphone is a plus)
- Information about background noises. For example, please turn off your phone or put it on Do Not Disturb, so that we don’t have any pings/notification sounds in the background.
- Whether the interview is audio-only or will include video
- Where will the recording take place – remotely (on which platform) or live (which location).
The key to all of this is to make your guest feel at ease. And the best way to do this is to provide him or her with as much information as possible. PLUS it doesn’t hurt to have a quick chat before hitting the record button as a way to get the ball rolling.
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Growing Your Audience with Podcast Interviews
While an interview itself is fun, don’t miss out on the opportunity to reach new listeners with each new interviewee. If they haven’t already, ask your podcast guest to share the show with their social media following. You can even create shareable media like images, quotes, and other easy-to-read media for them to post, including your podcast’s following information.
The type of person you invite to your show will go a long way in increasing your podcast audience as well.
Content is always king, but inviting guests you admire and who have bigger followings than you could channel some of that community interaction your way and set you down a path to quicker growth than others. Listeners consume an average of seven different podcasts per week, so chances are that aligning yourself with another podcaster will give you access to a like-minded audience.
Want to learn more about how to grow your audience with podcast guests?
- Why do you need to find the right podcast guest?
- How do you find the right people for your podcast?
- Asking someone to be on your podcast?
- How to prepare your guest for your podcast episode?
Read our article: How to Grow Your Audience With Podcast Guests
How to be Interviewed for a Podcast
It’s a two way street: as a podcast guest, you need to be prepared for your interview as well. While you won’t be guiding the conversation like your host, you’ll be expected to share your expert knowledge with the audience. While you theoretically can’t prepare for every question thrown your way, here are some tips to smash your podcast interview.
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1. Prepare Your Space
You could be spilling the secret to growing your audience overnight, but listeners won’t care if your audio isn’t clear. Prepping your space is the key to a smooth interview process. If you’ll be doing the interview at home, finding a calm environment with decent acoustics will go a long way. Be careful with little background noises that might you might not notice.
It doesn’t need to be a pro job, but soundproofing your room for a podcast interview using carpets or blankets or even recording from your closet can make all the difference in sounding like an amateur or an expert.
2. Gear Up
Again, nobody is expecting a pro sound job and expensive microphone, but your voice will sound best recorded on a real mic rather than just an iPhone headset. You want something that will remain stable on the table and not move around collecting background noise. You can find cheap mics on Amazon, but if you want an affordable mic that you’ll likely use again for future podcast interviews, consider investing in something like the Blue Yeti USB Condenser Microphone or Shure SM58.
3. Get To Know Your Host
Getting to know your host ahead of time will save any awkward moments on air, and will allow you to dive deep into your topic. This involves both speaking with them before the show, and also taking a look at past episodes in which they’ve hosted guests. Is there a certain questioning style that they take on? Do their episodes contain a lot of jokes, or are they more factual?
For example, if you’re a sustainable fashion brand, the kinds of answers you’ll give will differ depending on whether you’re being interviewed on Goal Digger or Conscious Chatter. In one, you’ll take a more marketing-minded approach, knowing millennial-aged female businesswomen are your main audience, but on the latter, you’ll be able to go more into detail about the design process.
You might be nervous, especially if it’s your first time being interviewed, so talking to your host ahead of time will break the ice and allow you to establish mutual trust. When you trust your host, you’ll allow yourself to be more vulnerable and honest in your answers, which leads to a better conversation and more enjoyable content for your listeners. Having raw honest conversations tends to translate well for podcast ratings, as your listeners will be able to relate.
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4. Practice Introducing Yourself
The audience will get to know you better over the course of the interview, but you will likely need to introduce yourself in the first few minutes of the show. If you’ve never had to introduce yourself before, it might seem a bit awkward at first.
Think of this like an elevator pitch in which you tell the audience who you are, what your accomplishments are, and why you specifically are starring on the show. You don’t need to write down a script, but try to sum up the main points that define you and your work, and let the conversation flow naturally.
Sometimes your host will introduce you quickly, like in this episode of the Run With It podcast. This introduction is followed up by a common question that often appears early on in an interview, which involves the host asking their interviewee how they came up with their idea or how they got to where they are today. Having your origin story is a good thing to prepare as part of your introduction, as they will always inevitably be thrown out early.
5. Be Yourself
The best podcast interviews just feel like conversations. That means you aren’t just sitting there answering question after question, but rather going back and forth in various interactions with your host. You’re being invited to the show to discuss something, not give a lecture.
How to do this? Just be yourself! Act like you’re speaking to a friend, and don’t be afraid to have fun with it. If you aren’t having a great time, the audience won’t be either.
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