July 1, 2024

Podcast interview tips: How to get the most out of an interview

Interviews are the backbone of many shows. Get podcast interview tips to help you select guests, craft good questions, and lead better interviews.
July 1, 2024

Podcast interview tips: How to get the most out of an interview

Interviews are the backbone of many shows. Get podcast interview tips to help you select guests, craft good questions, and lead better interviews.
July 1, 2024
Eric Silver
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Whether you’re talking business strategies, breaking down the most recent scandal in reality TV, or discussing the best way to run your Dungeons and Dragons game, an interview is the perfect opportunity to have an outside expert bounce their thoughts off of you and your co-hosts. Every podcast will have an interview in some way, so the best way to set your show apart is to learn how to do it right.

How to find the right guest: Think of them as tech support

Before hitting up all your friends to come on your show, consider the qualities that make a good guest. More than anything, your guest has to be an engaging and concise talker. They can be funny, you two can have great chemistry, and they can be your best friend—that’s great for the group chat. But being able to hold an audience’s attention and communicate their expert information are the most important qualities.

Think of it like this: if you didn’t know this person, could they walk you through fixing your computer as tech support? Can they give you instructions, listen to your ideas, and hold you on the phone for a while? If the answer is yes, they’d probably be a good guest. As you work through your business cards, social media mutuals, and Discord channels, use this as a point of reference to pick the best guest for your podcast interview.

What if you just know them from the internet and have never heard them talk before? In that case, see if they've ever been on other podcasts, YouTube videos, or even social media videos—anywhere else you might see how they speak and act. If you really aren't sure, you can always schedule a pre-interview to get a feel for them before booking them on your show.

How to reach out to your guest

Now that you know who you’re going to ask, how are you going to go about it? A short and sweet email is all you need. Just lay out the relevant information about your show, how long the interview will take, and why they would make a good guest. Here’s an example if I reached out to my friend Amanda to come on my podcast where we rank video game characters:

Subject: Want to talk about which video game character would win in a fight?

Body:

Hey Amanda,

Hope all is well with you and you're recovering from the onslaught of previews at Summer Games Fest.

I'm reaching out because I'd love it if you would guest on my podcast Triple S Tier, where we debate which video game character would win in a fight. We run through a list of questions that I have prepped, compare them to similar characters and their friends on their console generation, and talk about your relationship to that character. The show has been going for 20 episodes so far, and we've talked about Master Chief, Mario, Spyro, Isabelle from Animal Crossing, and many more.

I'd love the chance to interview you for this show. I know you've written a lot of blogs about Shadow the Hedgehog and Big the Cat, and you're incredibly funny online, so I'd love to have you.

It would take around 90 minutes and take place remotely, but if you find yourself in NYC in the next few months we can do it in person.

Let me know if this is of interest and we can get something on the calendar.

– Eric

Feel free to turn this email into a template. Swap out the introduction and the reason you want them on the show, and you're all set.

Once they say yes, you can build on that previous email with all the necessary logistical information and tech requirements. You can explain the format or subjects you’re going to cover as well, but only if you feel that a guest would be caught off guard by what’s going to happen when you're going to record. You’re riding the line between informative and overwhelming here, so pick your spots.

Here’s my example:

Hey Amanda,

Thanks so much for being on Triple S Tier. Confirmation of the recording date and time are below, as well as in the calendar invite I just sent along.

DATE: Tuesday June 11, 2024
TIME: 11:15am
LINK: [insert your SquadCast or other remote recording link]

In order for you to sound the best you can, here are a few steps we'd love you to take in advance of our recording:

- We record over SquadCast, just click the link above when you're in the way.
- Use the strongest internet connection you have.
—A hardwired ethernet cable is preferable to WiFi, if possible
—5G WiFi networks are usually stronger than regular ones, if available
- If you have the capability to record your side of the conversation on your own device, please do!
—Using a microphone is ideal, but if not, headphones with a built-in mic (like iPhone earbuds) are okay too.
- Please wear headphones during the call.
- Record in the quietest room you can: away from traffic, pets, loud air conditioners, etc.
—A closet is often a quiet choice if you have one large enough. Otherwise, please choose a room with as little echo as possible
- Finally, please send us your files for your local recording as soon as possible after our recording at this Dropbox link [link].

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Otherwise, I will see you on Tuesday!
– Eric

How to write good interview questions

The interview is locked in the calendar, and now you’ve got to prepare.

  1. Research your guest ahead of time: This is the main tool in your toolkit to surprise, entice, and constructively challenge your guest. Take some time to listen to podcast episodes they've featured on and read interviews that they’ve given before. 
  2. Quote the guest back to them: Once you have a juicy nugget, transcribe or copy that down and use it as a springboard for a question. As an audio medium, podcast interviews need signposting to remind folks where the conversation is and where it's going. Using quotes is a great way to orient the listener and the interviewee.
  3. Dig into their Wikipedia citations and their social media channels: These two are overlooked goldmines for good questions. If they have a Wikipedia page, see where the citations go. And everyone forgets what they’ve tweeted as soon as they do it, so by quoting their posts, you might be surprising them with their own words.
  4. Write more questions than you think you’d need: You might get caught up in keeping the interview on course and within time constraints if you’re married to all of your questions. Write more questions that you need so that you can drop a few if the interview is going on a fun and interesting tangent.
  5. Let the last question be an opportunity to say something spicy: Instead of putting pressure on yourself to come up with a great final question, you can prepare the same last question for every episode. I recommend a “hot take” framing so the interviewee can drop an unexpected, unique answer. You can say something like, “Here at the end of the show, we let our guests take the opportunity to unleash a flaming hot take on the mic about [the subject of the interview.]” This is perfect not only for ending on a bang, but it's also ripe for social clips. And even if they take a minute to think about it, you can always cut that out.

Put your best foot forward and use your best technology

It’s your interview, so make sure you’re bringing your A-game. Use the best mic and camera you have, make sure you’re using strong WiFi or an ethernet connection, and use headphones so no one gets echo. You putting your best foot forward might subconsciously suggest to an unprepared guest to do the same. But you can always ask them before you start recording if they have any questions regarding the email you sent earlier.

If you’re doing remote recording, we recommend SquadCast. While many default to using Zoom, it’s better to use a platform purpose-made for remote recording. SquadCast records each guest locally for a higher-quality recording, which will make editing and mixing a lot easier. This is especially important if your guest can't locally record themselves, but it's still important to have a backup.

SquadCast product image
SquadCast

How to nail the interview and keep your guest comfortable

Once the interview begins, you need to be on your toes. You’re the podcast host and host of the party, so keep the energy up, and your guest taken care of:

  • Be an active listener, but not out loud: You want your interviewee to feel like you’re having a good time with them. But it will be a pain to have to cut out all of the “mmhmm” and “for sure” that you’re saying while they're talking. While you can’t maintain eye contact remotely, everyone knows what it looks like when someone’s focused on a different tab or looking at their phone. And nod your head emphatically when they make a good point.
  • Laugh warmly and emphatically: There’s one place where it’s acceptable, even encouraged to make noise as the listening member of the interview, and that’s laughing. If your guest is funny, let them know!
  • Ask follow-up questions: Feel free to deviate from the questions you prepared if you think there’s an interesting avenue to walk down. That’s why you overprepared, remember?
  • Know when to jump in: It may feel rude not to let the guest answer every question fully, but a good interviewer knows when to hop in and redirect. If the guest gets off-course or misinterprets the question, politely interrupt and reframe.

What to do after the interview

The interview is over, but your relationship with the guest isn’t! Follow up with a warm email thanking them for their time and delivering links and any promotional materials you want them to share on social media. And don’t be afraid to ask to be on their show; relationship building is the name of the game so they should be happy to reciprocate after your wonderful interview.

Podcast interview tips FAQ

Want to know more about podcasting interviews? Here are some answers to our frequently asked questions:

How do I prepare for a podcast interview?

To prepare for a podcast interview, do your research! Read old interviews, listen to old podcasts, and even dig into the guest's Wikipedia pages and their social media channels for things they might not remember that they said.

How do you come up with questions for a podcast interview?

Remember that your perspective as an interviewer is critical to your show. You’re not just preparing for a general interview; it’s your interview. Ask the questions that you want to know, and feel free to share with the subject what you’ve thought of and gleaned from their work.

How do I nail a podcast interview?

To nail a podcast interview, active listening is key. While you can’t keep eye contact with someone for a remote recording, you can make sure they know you’re not flipping to different tabs or checking your phone. And nodding emphatically and silently will save you a lot of time from editing out your “mmhmms” and “rights.”

How to structure an interview podcast?

To structure an interview podcast, think of it like a conversation, with ebbing and flowing topics. Divide your segments based on key topics or themes, touching on different parts of your guest’s expertise or experiences. And if one segment goes longer than the other, that’s ok!

Eric Silver
Eric Silver is the Head of Development at Multitude. He's produced 11 podcasts, working with Defector, Sony, Netflix, and for Multitude's conversational podcast foundations. If able, he will always pick Donkey Kong.
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Podcast interview tips: How to get the most out of an interview

Whether you’re talking business strategies, breaking down the most recent scandal in reality TV, or discussing the best way to run your Dungeons and Dragons game, an interview is the perfect opportunity to have an outside expert bounce their thoughts off of you and your co-hosts. Every podcast will have an interview in some way, so the best way to set your show apart is to learn how to do it right.

How to find the right guest: Think of them as tech support

Before hitting up all your friends to come on your show, consider the qualities that make a good guest. More than anything, your guest has to be an engaging and concise talker. They can be funny, you two can have great chemistry, and they can be your best friend—that’s great for the group chat. But being able to hold an audience’s attention and communicate their expert information are the most important qualities.

Think of it like this: if you didn’t know this person, could they walk you through fixing your computer as tech support? Can they give you instructions, listen to your ideas, and hold you on the phone for a while? If the answer is yes, they’d probably be a good guest. As you work through your business cards, social media mutuals, and Discord channels, use this as a point of reference to pick the best guest for your podcast interview.

What if you just know them from the internet and have never heard them talk before? In that case, see if they've ever been on other podcasts, YouTube videos, or even social media videos—anywhere else you might see how they speak and act. If you really aren't sure, you can always schedule a pre-interview to get a feel for them before booking them on your show.

How to reach out to your guest

Now that you know who you’re going to ask, how are you going to go about it? A short and sweet email is all you need. Just lay out the relevant information about your show, how long the interview will take, and why they would make a good guest. Here’s an example if I reached out to my friend Amanda to come on my podcast where we rank video game characters:

Subject: Want to talk about which video game character would win in a fight?

Body:

Hey Amanda,

Hope all is well with you and you're recovering from the onslaught of previews at Summer Games Fest.

I'm reaching out because I'd love it if you would guest on my podcast Triple S Tier, where we debate which video game character would win in a fight. We run through a list of questions that I have prepped, compare them to similar characters and their friends on their console generation, and talk about your relationship to that character. The show has been going for 20 episodes so far, and we've talked about Master Chief, Mario, Spyro, Isabelle from Animal Crossing, and many more.

I'd love the chance to interview you for this show. I know you've written a lot of blogs about Shadow the Hedgehog and Big the Cat, and you're incredibly funny online, so I'd love to have you.

It would take around 90 minutes and take place remotely, but if you find yourself in NYC in the next few months we can do it in person.

Let me know if this is of interest and we can get something on the calendar.

– Eric

Feel free to turn this email into a template. Swap out the introduction and the reason you want them on the show, and you're all set.

Once they say yes, you can build on that previous email with all the necessary logistical information and tech requirements. You can explain the format or subjects you’re going to cover as well, but only if you feel that a guest would be caught off guard by what’s going to happen when you're going to record. You’re riding the line between informative and overwhelming here, so pick your spots.

Here’s my example:

Hey Amanda,

Thanks so much for being on Triple S Tier. Confirmation of the recording date and time are below, as well as in the calendar invite I just sent along.

DATE: Tuesday June 11, 2024
TIME: 11:15am
LINK: [insert your SquadCast or other remote recording link]

In order for you to sound the best you can, here are a few steps we'd love you to take in advance of our recording:

- We record over SquadCast, just click the link above when you're in the way.
- Use the strongest internet connection you have.
—A hardwired ethernet cable is preferable to WiFi, if possible
—5G WiFi networks are usually stronger than regular ones, if available
- If you have the capability to record your side of the conversation on your own device, please do!
—Using a microphone is ideal, but if not, headphones with a built-in mic (like iPhone earbuds) are okay too.
- Please wear headphones during the call.
- Record in the quietest room you can: away from traffic, pets, loud air conditioners, etc.
—A closet is often a quiet choice if you have one large enough. Otherwise, please choose a room with as little echo as possible
- Finally, please send us your files for your local recording as soon as possible after our recording at this Dropbox link [link].

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Otherwise, I will see you on Tuesday!
– Eric

How to write good interview questions

The interview is locked in the calendar, and now you’ve got to prepare.

  1. Research your guest ahead of time: This is the main tool in your toolkit to surprise, entice, and constructively challenge your guest. Take some time to listen to podcast episodes they've featured on and read interviews that they’ve given before. 
  2. Quote the guest back to them: Once you have a juicy nugget, transcribe or copy that down and use it as a springboard for a question. As an audio medium, podcast interviews need signposting to remind folks where the conversation is and where it's going. Using quotes is a great way to orient the listener and the interviewee.
  3. Dig into their Wikipedia citations and their social media channels: These two are overlooked goldmines for good questions. If they have a Wikipedia page, see where the citations go. And everyone forgets what they’ve tweeted as soon as they do it, so by quoting their posts, you might be surprising them with their own words.
  4. Write more questions than you think you’d need: You might get caught up in keeping the interview on course and within time constraints if you’re married to all of your questions. Write more questions that you need so that you can drop a few if the interview is going on a fun and interesting tangent.
  5. Let the last question be an opportunity to say something spicy: Instead of putting pressure on yourself to come up with a great final question, you can prepare the same last question for every episode. I recommend a “hot take” framing so the interviewee can drop an unexpected, unique answer. You can say something like, “Here at the end of the show, we let our guests take the opportunity to unleash a flaming hot take on the mic about [the subject of the interview.]” This is perfect not only for ending on a bang, but it's also ripe for social clips. And even if they take a minute to think about it, you can always cut that out.

Put your best foot forward and use your best technology

It’s your interview, so make sure you’re bringing your A-game. Use the best mic and camera you have, make sure you’re using strong WiFi or an ethernet connection, and use headphones so no one gets echo. You putting your best foot forward might subconsciously suggest to an unprepared guest to do the same. But you can always ask them before you start recording if they have any questions regarding the email you sent earlier.

If you’re doing remote recording, we recommend SquadCast. While many default to using Zoom, it’s better to use a platform purpose-made for remote recording. SquadCast records each guest locally for a higher-quality recording, which will make editing and mixing a lot easier. This is especially important if your guest can't locally record themselves, but it's still important to have a backup.

SquadCast product image
SquadCast

How to nail the interview and keep your guest comfortable

Once the interview begins, you need to be on your toes. You’re the podcast host and host of the party, so keep the energy up, and your guest taken care of:

  • Be an active listener, but not out loud: You want your interviewee to feel like you’re having a good time with them. But it will be a pain to have to cut out all of the “mmhmm” and “for sure” that you’re saying while they're talking. While you can’t maintain eye contact remotely, everyone knows what it looks like when someone’s focused on a different tab or looking at their phone. And nod your head emphatically when they make a good point.
  • Laugh warmly and emphatically: There’s one place where it’s acceptable, even encouraged to make noise as the listening member of the interview, and that’s laughing. If your guest is funny, let them know!
  • Ask follow-up questions: Feel free to deviate from the questions you prepared if you think there’s an interesting avenue to walk down. That’s why you overprepared, remember?
  • Know when to jump in: It may feel rude not to let the guest answer every question fully, but a good interviewer knows when to hop in and redirect. If the guest gets off-course or misinterprets the question, politely interrupt and reframe.

What to do after the interview

The interview is over, but your relationship with the guest isn’t! Follow up with a warm email thanking them for their time and delivering links and any promotional materials you want them to share on social media. And don’t be afraid to ask to be on their show; relationship building is the name of the game so they should be happy to reciprocate after your wonderful interview.

Podcast interview tips FAQ

Want to know more about podcasting interviews? Here are some answers to our frequently asked questions:

How do I prepare for a podcast interview?

To prepare for a podcast interview, do your research! Read old interviews, listen to old podcasts, and even dig into the guest's Wikipedia pages and their social media channels for things they might not remember that they said.

How do you come up with questions for a podcast interview?

Remember that your perspective as an interviewer is critical to your show. You’re not just preparing for a general interview; it’s your interview. Ask the questions that you want to know, and feel free to share with the subject what you’ve thought of and gleaned from their work.

How do I nail a podcast interview?

To nail a podcast interview, active listening is key. While you can’t keep eye contact with someone for a remote recording, you can make sure they know you’re not flipping to different tabs or checking your phone. And nodding emphatically and silently will save you a lot of time from editing out your “mmhmms” and “rights.”

How to structure an interview podcast?

To structure an interview podcast, think of it like a conversation, with ebbing and flowing topics. Divide your segments based on key topics or themes, touching on different parts of your guest’s expertise or experiences. And if one segment goes longer than the other, that’s ok!

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