Take a moment and think of your favorite talk show. (It’s OK, we all have one.) What makes it so appealing? Is it the type of guests they have on? The host? The line of questioning?
A podcast interview is like any other interview. You may not be in front of the camera, but you still have a responsibility to your audience to come prepared and be ready for the unexpected.
We’ve already talked about how important it is to do your research prior to your guest being on your show and I can’t stress that enough. There are two approaches you can take. Some people find it helpful to have your questions written out before the show, so you have a roadmap of where to go in case it goes off the rails. Others decide they want to wing it and see where the interview goes. It all depends on how confident you feel about your abilities to keep you and your guest focused.
If your podcast episodes usually run under an hour or so, you’re more than likely looking at around 8-10 questions you’ll be asking. Here are some helpful ideas for questions you can ask that will elicit some good responses from your guests and take the conversation to a new level.
Cut out the fluff
If your questions aren’t related to the topic you’re discussing, get rid of them. Your audience is tuning in because they think you and your guest are going to provide some sort of value for them. They don’t want to hear a bunch of random conversations.
It’s OK to start small
You want to start a free-flowing conversation with your guest like you’re sitting down having a cup of coffee with them. Find something relatable like a current event or a common interest you share that could serve as the ice breaker. Check out their social media to see what they’ve been up to and use that as a way to kick start the conversation.
“I saw that you went to [DESTINATION]. How was that experience?”
Ask Open-Ended Questions
An open-ended question is one that won’t get you some sort of canned or one-note response from your guest, like a “yes” or “no.” The last thing you want is for a guest to not have anywhere to go with an answer. Ask questions that start with “who”, “what”, “when”, “why” and “how.” and you will avoid getting a one-note answer.
“Who are your biggest heroes and why?”
“What was the catalyst that helped you realize what you wanted to do with your life?”
One of the easiest lines of questioning is to dig into your guest’s expertise. If this isn’t their first rodeo, chances are they’ve been asked a majority of these questions already and can answer them with relative ease.
“What is a myth about [TOPIC] and how do you debunk it?”
“What kind of advice would you give to somebody interested in going into [TOPIC]?”
“I’ve heard that starting [HOBBY/PROFESSION] can be expensive. What would somebody need to spend to get started?”
Find their passion
It’s super easy for people to talk about stuff they’re passionate about. It’s also fun for a listener to hear a story that they can relate to or resonates with their own personal experiences. Stories bring out the emotion from your guest. They’re going to be so much more engaged when they can spin a narrative about something that revs up their engines.
“Tell me about a time when you discovered your love for [TOPIC]?
“If you could rewind time, what advice would you give your 13-year-old self?”
Negatives can be a positive
While it’s probably not the best idea to start your interview with something negative, these types of questions can be a great way to reiterate a valuable lesson to your audience, as well as prompt an intriguing discussion.
“Tell me about a time you made a mistake and what did you learn from it?”
“People think starting a business is a recipe for failure. Why do you think people believe that?”
Be ready to improvise
Be ready to sideline your agenda if you get an answer that warrants some extra probing that you may find even more useful for your audience. Some of the best interviewers know how to listen well and elicit the right response from their guests, especially if it feels like the conversation may be getting boring or going south.
“You mentioned something about [TOPIC]. Talk a little bit more about what you mean.”
Try some out of the box questions
Here’s your chance to ask some funny and unique questions that could get a great answer from your guest. The list for these types of questions go on and on, but here are a few favorites.
“If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?”
“If you were an animal, what would you be and why”
“You’re a brand new color that’s been added to a crayon box. What color are you and why?”
Just be sure that whatever out of the box questions you ask, you can still tie them back to the core of what your goal is.
Come up with your own signature question
A lot of podcasters come up with a question or series of questions that are specific to their show. This is a great way to build your brand, tie it back to the central theme of your podcast, and see what kind of different responses you’ll get from your guests from the same content. Plus, it helps to build some continuity into your podcast.
Take some time to brainstorm some unique questions and try them out until you find the one(s) that work well.
Remember to let your guest speak
One of the most annoying things you can do to your guest (and your audience) is to not let your guest have their time to talk. Remember to give them space. Let them elaborate so you get those amazing soundbites for your listeners (and for your marketing efforts). Sometimes you need to let the conversation flow in order for that to happen. Don’t be rigid sticking to your talking points or list of questions, but use it as a tool to help guide the conversation.
Remember to always have your goal in mind when you’re crafting questions. Put yourself in your guest’s shoes and think about how you would answer the questions you’re posing? Is this a conversation you would eavesdrop on?
The idea is simple. Ask great questions and you’ll get great answers!
Hosting and crafting content for your podcast can be fun and once you start gaining more listeners, your confidence is only to grow. If you haven’t experienced Fusebox yet, we would encourage you to give it a test drive and see how easy it is and the professional touch it adds to your podcast. You’ll be able to give your listeners incredible content, combined with an amazing player. Try it for FREE.