6 of the Most Important Interview Questions for Podcasts
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When you have a guest on your podcast, you want to ask them some unexpected questions that will make the show a real home run.
Your questions should be thought-provoking, kind, and personal so that the artist or expert you’re talking to comes across as a real person.
To get those more honest, personal answers, you need to connect with your guest. Give them a few nice things to say to help them loosen up and feel more comfortable talking during the interview.
You’ll know you’ve broken the ice with them when their answers become more natural and their voices become less tense. If you can make them laugh, that’s always a good sign.
Along with your simple, go-to questions like “Tell us about yourself and your project,” “How long have you been working in this industry,” “What have you learned from your work,” “How do you hope to affect your audience,” and “What are your overall goals,” you need to ask some really tough questions that make them stop and think for a moment.
What’s the biggest challenge you have with your specific role right now and how are you going to overcome it?
First, find out what you can. You already know what your guest does for a living, but do some research to find out what their typical job is.
Whether you want to be an artist, a musician, or a scientist, there will be mountains to climb along the way. So, take your interviewee on a trip and climb those mountains with them. Find out how they plan to deal with these problems while you’re at it.
This question will not only show a more personal side of your interviewee’s work, but it will also give you both a chance to inspire and move your listeners with your answers.
What’s the biggest thing that’s surprised you in the last few months?
Keep going until you run out of ideas. No matter how hard your guest’s 9-to-5 job is, there’s always something good about it.
If your guest is working on a specific project, like a video game or a tech gadget, this gives them a chance to talk about some of the cool things about it that will get your audience even more excited about it.
Also, your guest’s answer will tell you and your audience what kinds of surprises keep them excited about their work and keep them motivated.
If you had an extra money or budget…how would you spend it and why?
Now, put yourself in the place of your guest. Budget problems can put a lot of stress on both the project and the person who came up with the idea. If you were them, how would you spend the extra money? Would you put it toward development, production, marketing, or something else?
Even if your guest is wealthy or has investors, a little bit of extra cash can go a long way. On the other hand, think about how your guest would answer the question if they are doing their project on a very tight budget.
In either case, this is a topic that will give your interviewee a lot to think about.
How do you keep learning new things to stay on top of things in your job?
What kind of research might be part of their job? Do they read the latest articles about their industry while sipping their morning coffee, or do they look through research papers during their lunch breaks? Even though your guest has spent years getting a college degree, they may still go to classes or seminars on the weekends to keep up with changes in their field. But you won’t know for sure until you ask.
This question is also very interesting to your listeners because it gives them some ideas for how to learn more about a field they may be interested in.
What’s the biggest thing that didn’t work out in the past year, and why do you think that happened?
Don’t forget that not all of your questions can be easy. Once your guest seems more at ease and willing to talk about deeper things, ask them what their biggest failure in the last year was.
It could be as disappointing as falling just a few dollars short of their budget and having to cut corners, or it could be as devastating as losing most of their resource files and having to start from scratch.
But even this kind of question can be thought-provoking, so tell the person you’re interviewing not to be too hard on themselves. Just like they’ve gotten through some of their biggest problems on the job, they’ve also gotten through what seemed like their biggest failure.
What are you most interested in learning about in your role, and why? Or, what kinds of things are you looking into the most right now?
This question is a little bit about how they keep learning to stay on top of their job, but it’s more about the technical side of their hobbies.
Experts will always have a burning question about their field, no matter if they just got out of college or have been working in their field for decades.
For example, an engineer might be looking into AI consciousness to see if it’s possible, how to make it work in real life, and what effects it might have. A neuroscientist, on the other hand, might try to figure out where in the brain consciousness might show up.
Your interviewee’s answer will be interesting and show how their work fits into a bigger picture. If you know what they are most interested in or what they are researching, you can also get a sense of what they value most.
Additional Podcast Interview Tips
Conduct your research
Do your research, we can’t say it enough. If you have a guest on your show and just ask them random questions about their work, it will be very clear. You know who they are and what they’re working on, but you should check out what they’ve already said on their website and social media.
If your guest has already been interviewed, especially in the last few weeks or months, listen to that podcast or read that article to find out what questions have already been asked of them. You don’t want to bore your guest with questions that sound like they’ve been asked a hundred times before.
Make Contact With Your Guest
Even though you want your guest to do all the talking, don’t be afraid to say what’s on your mind. If you make them feel like they’re talking to a friend instead of just another podcast host, the interview will go more smoothly and naturally.
If the person you’re interviewing feels like you understand them, they’ll be more likely to answer your questions in more depth. Your listeners will also like that the interview feels more real this way.
Plus, if you want the podcast to be all about your guest and not about you, you can always cut out your part. Or, you can set up a call with them before the interview to go over your questions and tell them a little about yourself. So, they won’t be meeting you for the first time at the interview, and you’ll already have a connection with them.
Allow Plenty of Time
Go slow. Take your time reading the questions, and give the person you’re talking to a moment to think before they answer. It’s also important to wait a moment before asking the next question, since a brief pause may encourage the guest to keep talking.
If a question really stumps your guest, you can always come back to it later in the interview, after they’ve had more time to think about how to answer.
They might also have to answer that hard question while you’re talking about your other points.
Behind the scenes, a lot goes into an interview. You have to make the interviewee feel at ease enough to take off some of their professional mask and talk about themselves and their work in a more personal way.
From our time hosting VA FLIX, these are some of the most important questions to ask during a podcast interview. We and our listeners always learn a lot from the answers about the guest, their latest project, and their field as a whole.
Check out our blog for the latest advice on podcasts, creating content, and digital marketing. You can also follow us on social media to find out about the latest trends we’re covering.
Please get in touch with us if you want to know more about our work or VA FLIX.
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