It’s pretty exciting when your first guest is visiting your podcast. Are you nervous? Nah, you shouldn’t be! Especially with this great piece featuring podcast questions to get to know your guest and what they’re all about. Remember, make it a conversation, not an interrogation. And we’ll help you get started. It’s going to go great!
Keys to an Organic Interview
When you have a guest on your show, there are a couple of ways to look at it. We’ll get to those in just a second, but whichever route you choose, make it organic. No one wants to hear you read off a list of questions and hear your guest simply spout off answers with no conversation, unless, of course, you’re working on Vogue’s 73 Questions (those are so fun, right?).
So when you ask podcast interview questions, let your guest talk. And then acknowledge before moving on. This not only shows that you’re listening, but it shows you’re engaged. This all makes the guest feel more comfortable and the interview more engaging for everyone. There are a few ways to do this, though, and with the help of this article, we want to share them with you.
Questions and beyond…
The above article calls these Rabbit Hole Interviews, and it’s fitting, for sure. What’s lovely about these is that they’re not scripted and the interviewer must be listening and engaged to continue to ask questions. The host digs deeper from each response. Makes me think about Oprah and her gift of engagement. Here’s an example of this type of podcast questions taken from the above article:
Interviewer: “Can you talk about your childhood?”
Guest: “….I still have fond memories of that place where I first held a guitar in my hand..”
Interviewer: “What was that experience like? Can you describe that moment?”
Guest: “..(smiling)..of course…I had this person who taught me how to hold the guitar..who eventually went on to become one of my best teachers who told me once that he saw himself in me….”
Interviewer: “That’s a special relationship indeed. What kind of a person was he?”
Guest: “He was like my father…”
You see, each response inspires another question to dig deeper. However, the questions are smooth, organic, and relevant, often with a comment beforehand. Again, no one enjoys that barrage of unrelated questions unless it’s the game you’re playing. But for an in-depth interview, this is a great way to connect with your guest.
We gain a lot of great information from this article in our Bunny Library, and it shares the advantages of a qualitative interview for podcast questions.
A qualitative interview is an in-depth and personal interview that allows the participant to ask the interviewer questions as well.
Essentially, this type of interview works both ways, and this allows both interviewers and interviewees to fully explore a certain subject or topic.
Here are other characteristics of qualitative interviews:
- The structure and direction of the questions can change; the participant determines what the follow up questions will be.
- There is no specific way of answering questions.
- The participant can answer in their own words and even speak more on points they find important.
This allows for an organic conversation. Though the interview may take on a different path than originally intended, it’s a great way to get the guest talking and share a thoughtful conversation.
Letting the Guest Share a Story
Another great format for asking podcast interview questions is to set the stage. Here is where the guest is going to do most of the talking. The host will use the format to set up the scene and let the guest take it away. For example, a host may give a bit of an introduction for the guest, then simply ask, “Can you share your story with us now?” and then off we go.
There may be some return to the host throughout the narrative, but the guest almost takes on a guest host format. Often you’ll see this type of questioning in a subject-related podcast. Think about perhaps a paranormal show. A guest comes on and the host guides them through their personal experience, letting them tell their story in their own words. Sure, the host will comment here and there, and maybe guide the conversation back to relevancy, but it’s not so much asking questions as it setting the stage for a story.
Afterward, the host may sum up the story and share a bit of reaction, but the guest is the one doing most of the talking here. We may not see as much of a conversation as the other types of podcast interviews.
Now if you want the focus of your interview to be the person rather than the experience they had, this is when your interview questions gain that real importance. Remember how your mom asked questions when you came home from school? The classic “How was your day?” and probably 90% of the time your answer was, “Good.” But if she said, “Oh, what happened today in the hallway after math with that new guy?” you probably had a better answer. Some of our moms were great at the art of questioning, and if you’re a podcast host, you want that skill, too.
Here are some great questions to ask your guest to get them talking…
Maybe open with that icebreaker question. Some of these could be:
- When you were a kid, what did you think you’d grow up to be?
- What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
- Can you tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
- What’s your weirdest habit?
And as the interview goes on, your questions should be a bit more relevant to the topic and why your person is there.
As far as your own prep, you should definitely do a bit of work before recording the show.
Podcast Interview Prep
So you have gotten your podcast altogether; maybe your topic is bird watching. You have a guest coming on who is an expert in your community. He is the bird guru. So read up on him before he gets to your show. As you read, prepare those questions that make sense to ask him on your show. Prepping your show is all part of podcast production, right? So this is part of your scriptwriting.
Often people will divide up their questions into three parts – the precursor to this expertise, the current work the expert does, and what they see happening with this in the next few years. If you can gear your questions into these categories, you’ll make it much easier on yourself and create a lovely flow to the interview.
Precursor to expertise:
- What made you fall in love with bird watching?
- I see you grew up in North Carolina. Can you tell me about your childhood there?
- Was there someone important in your life who helped you find this profession or inspired you?
- When did you get your first binoculars?
- What’s your favorite thing about what you do now?
- What’s the toughest thing about bird watching?
- If there was one thing you wish more people knew about bird watching, what is it?
- What are you currently working on?
- Where do you see bird watching going in the next few years?
- What do you wish people would take more seriously about this?
- Are there some intrinsic benefits that everyone could get from learning about this?
- What’s next for you?
So you see, even though we are thinking about bird watching, these questions are great for almost any profession, hobby, or expertise. And many of these podcast questions can inspire and breed more organic questions depending on how your guest answers.
Remember, this article tells us that interview shows may be the original form of podcasts. You’re on the right track with this, you just have to ask the right questions in the right way. This same article also tells us of the importance of the role of the host, that’s you. Hosts are integral in all of these factors. The host can make or break a podcast…The more authentic a host can be, the more he or she will appeal to the audience.
And authenticity can be very apparent in an interview. If the questions seem forced or cold, the interview won’t go over well. If you, the host, know nothing about your guest, you’ll seem pretentious and bored. This not only will affect the interview and the guest, but your listeners will lose their own connection with you. So, make sure to do your research. Know a little about your guest. Read their book, listen to their music, do their yoga class, drink their home-crafted beer, you get what I’m saying….watch those birds.
The Podcast as a Whole
Your podcast is a package. Everything has to sit right together and be an organic whole. Your intro should depict what is yet to come and your outro and ads should be cohesive. Even your branding (your logo, merch, cover art) should all go hand in hand with the vibe you’re offering and the genre you’re delving into. Let your guests be part of this flow and the interview you share with them be just as cohesive. Your podcast questions can direct the interview to success.
Let Bunny Studio Help
Well, we can’t conduct your interview for you, but we can help in lots of other ways. As you can see from above, your whole podcast has a lot of moving parts. If you need a little assistance or professional touch to any of these parts, let us know. Submit your projects here and let us know how we can help. We can’t wait to listen!