Interviewing is an art. It’s not something you pick it up right away. To create a great interview that your audience wants to listen to, you will go through a few steps.
When I interviewed guests for our Become The Lion podcast, I used to a create list of questions I’d want to ask the guest and go down the list when they were done answering one of the questions. Trust me, this isn’t a great way to do an interview. No one wants to hear they’re talking to a robot.
You gain the experience of crafting your interviews; it isn’t something you’re born with. There’s a strategy you can use in your interviews to keep your audience coming back. Remember, your audience wants to hear unique content they haven’t heard before.
The interview you do with your guest will be beneficial to the both of you. Your audience will build a rapport with you. Your name is associated with your guest. If you have a big name guest on your show, this can increase your authority. From the guest on your show, you can do joint ventures together.
Conducting interviews aren’t easy in the beginning. That doesn’t mean you can’t get good at them overtime. After having conducted over 50 interviews for our Become The Lion podcast and being interviewed numerous times, I have a sense for what makes a great podcast interview.
Do Your Research
While I know podcast hosts that do little research on their guest, I believe you should do extensive research on your guest.
Your goal is to ask questions as you get further into the interview you haven’t heard the answer to before.
We had John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire on our podcast. He’s been asked hundreds of times why he started Entrepreneur on Fire and how he was able to grow it. If I did that interview with him, ours would get lost in the noise. I understood John was a finance guy. He worked at John Hancock in our backyard.
For the interview with John, I asked him questions related to finance. What type of investments he has, credit or no credit card, buy or rent a house, purchase or lease a car, etc. Maybe these questions had been asked of him before but I wanted to try my best to differentiate myself from the other interviews he’s done.
When you’re doing the research for your guest, you want to look at everything the guest has. This includes their social media, other podcast interviews they’ve done, the books they’ve written, and any articles written about them. Even though the interview may be one hour, you should spend at least two hours researching your guest to have the best interview.
With the research you’ve done with for your guest, this is how you will craft questions for your show. You want to ask questions that your guest hasn’t heard before. If they’re popular and have been interviewed multiple times, it may be hard to find a question they hadn’t been asked before. Try your best to come up with questions that are unique.
Let Your Guest Talk
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to an interview and heard the host talking over their guest. It’s annoying and not how you want to conduct your interview.
There will be times when you and your guest speak at the same time, allow your guest to continue. Once they’re done speaking, then you can ask your question.
The majority of the show should be your guest speaking while you’re the helping hand guiding the interview.
No one wants to listen to an interview when the host is interrupting the guest. If you were a guest, would you like the host interrupting you?
You want to engage in the conversation you have with your guest but you don’t want to go over the top.
No matter who you’re interviewing, always let your guest speak without interruption.
Remember You’re The Host
Don’t forget who’s conducting the interview. You’re the person who’s the conducting the interview and your audience is counting on your to deliver a high quality interview.
There can be times during an interview in which you and your guest get sidetracked and talk about something that’s not useful for your audience. When this happens during your interview, just bring the interview back to the place where your audience will get valuable information.
If your guest is going on a tangent and you realize it won’t be too useful to your audience, wait until they’re done speaking. Once your guest is done speaking, tell them you will be taking the interview in a different direction. When you take the interview in a different direction, you’re asking a question to your guest that will provide value to your audience.
Sometimes you get guests on your show who, for whatever reason aren’t interested in doing the interview or want to get the interview done as quickly as possible. When this happens, stop the interview. Ask your guest if they’d prefer to conduct the interview at another time. Your audience is counting on you, you don’t want to give them an interview that’s rushed.
You deserve the respect of a podcast host. If your guest doesn’t give you that respect, then it’s up to you to end the interview. While this doesn’t normally happen, you may encounter a few guests who are like that. Be prepared and remember that you’re the host.
In the beginning when I’d conduct podcast interviews, I’d never take notes. I’m not sure why I didn’t take notes, I just didn’t.
One day, I decide that I’d take notes on what my guest was saying. This became a game changer.
Before, I used to keep the follow up questions in my head. I’d be so focused on asking the follow up question in my head I wouldn’t pay attention to what my guest was saying.
When you take notes during the interview, it gives you the chance to ask follow-up questions to what your guest just said.
At the start of our podcast, I’d never ask follow-up questions because I didn’t take notes. The interviews were robotic.
What I’ve learned is that when you take notes during the interview, you’ll be able to come up with questions you hadn’t thought of before the interview. Maybe while you were doing your research, you missed something about your guest but they mention it during your interview.
I find my podcast interviews to be more fun when I take notes. I’m able to take the interview wherever it goes instead of constantly trying to guide it back.
Ask Open Ended Questions
During your interview, you want to try your best to ask open ended questions. When you ask open ended questions, it gives you the opportunity to ask follow-up questions.
You never want to ask a no or yes question. Once your guest answers, it can become awkward real fast. This is not what you want to happen during your interview.
Ask your guest questions that goes along with something they were just speaking about. Your goal is to have them dig deeper and be able to share more valuable information for your audience.
Try not to ask more than one question to your guest at a time. This can make them feel overwhelmed and they won’t know which question to answer. If you want to ask two questions, ask one and wait until they’re done speaking and then ask them the second question.
If you ask too many yes or no questions, you’ll find your interview getting over quicker than you would’ve liked.
Create A Comfortable Environment
Before you conduct the interview with your guest, you want to speak with them for a few minutes, five minutes at the most. You’re trying to make small talk with your guest and to see if you find a common connection.
Instead of going straight into your interview it gives you and your guest a chance to get to know each other.
When your create a comfortable environment with your guest, it’ll make your interview more enjoyable. You don’t have to become best friends in five minutes, just enough to get a good feel for each other.
Even before you’re talking to your guest pre-interview, you should send over your interview questions. Some guests want the interview questions and some don’t. As a common courtesy just send them.
Once they’re on the pre-interview with you, you can tell them about your show and the audience in which they will be speaking to.
The last thing you want to do in the pre-interview is giving your guest the opportunity to ask you questions.
When you go through this quick checklist, then it’s time to start your interview!
Have High-Quality Production
While it should be obvious that you want to have a high quality of production, I will still talk about it.
Make sure you have the right equipment for your interview. This includes having a mic and making sure your guest has a mic.
Put yourself in a quiet place where there won’t be background noise. Sometimes you can’t get rid of all background noise, you might’ve heard my dog barking once or twice on our show :). Y,ou should try your best to eliminate all noise.
When you’re doing an interview and you hear a garbage truck or police car outside, you can put your mic on mute. You can still hear your guest but your guest can’t hear you. Once the noise disappears, then you can unmute your mic.
Do whatever it takes to conduct a high-quality interview.
What’s your favorite podcast episode? Let us know in the comments!