Podcast interviews make some of the best content out there. But they can be difficult to record and assemble—especially if you’ve never done one before. You may be wondering:
- How do you keep your subject relaxed and comfortable to get the best results?
- What are the best podcast interview questions to ask?
- How do you condense a long conversation into a 45-minute podcast?
Don’t worry; in this blog you’ll learn how to interview someone for a podcast with our top-five podcast interview tips.
Need a quick primer before diving in? Check out our podcasting home page for everything you need to start your podcast.
1. Be Prepared
Preparation is key for any podcast interview. Start by doing some research on your subject to get some context for their story and help you come up with interesting podcast interview questions.
The idea is to get a broad overview of your subject’s background, but not to exhaustively research their whole life. You want to learn enough about them to provoke new questions, but not so much that there’s nothing left to talk about.
If you’re doing a telephone or Skype interview, you’ll need a way record the call. Here are some options:
- If possible, have your guest record themself on their end with a USB microphone and send you their recording.
- In lieu of that (or as a backup) you can record phone calls with apps like Automatic Call Recorder or route audio from Skype into your recording software with Loopback.
- Most importantly, always test your call recording system beforehand so you don’t run into any problems or delays during the interview.
Yeti X USB microphone is perfect for recording podcast interviews in any setting.
2. Ask Interesting Interview Questions
A critical part of learning how to conduct an interview is knowing what questions to ask. Your interview questions will frame the entire experience, so make them count!
For starters, if your subject has been interviewed before, don’t waste your time (or theirs) with questions that have already been answered. Instead, dig deeper and talk about things that other interviews haven’t covered. If you’re talking to a celebrity, don’t just ask them what it’s like to be famous—take a different angle and ask something unexpected instead, like “what was high school like for you?”
Secondly, good interview questions should remain relevant to your topic. If you’re interviewing a mountain climber for an extreme sports podcast, for example, your audience probably doesn’t care what they had for breakfast. But on a fitness podcast, that might be exactly what people want to hear.
Lastly, try not put your subject on the spot or catch them off guard with a sensitive or provocative question. When in doubt, send your questions in advance or ask them if they’re comfortable talking about something first.
3. Go With The Flow
Like any conversation, a podcast interview can go in many different directions. You might start off talking about your subject’s childhood only to discover something new and interesting about them, or you might stray from your intended topic into an unexpected yet engaging discussion. These divergences can produce some of the most interesting interviews, but if you’re too attached to your script you might miss out on some serious podcast gold.
Some of the best interview podcasts like Fresh Air and WTF With Marc Maron end up going in directions you’d never expect, but they’re always stimulating. The hosts of these shows are seasoned experts who know how to follow the most interesting conversational threads, and the result is top-notch content.
Conduct interviews following their example and you’ll find that going off-script with an occasional “what was that like?” or “tell me more” can often bring out the best in an interview.
Snowball USB microphones make it easy to capture premium sound in any location.
4. Respect Your Subject
To get the best results possible, the person you’re interviewing needs to feel relaxed and comfortable. Keep this is mind from your initial outreach and to the moment the episode goes live, and you’ll have a great interview and a happy guest.
- Send a reminder email. Little things like sending a reminder email the day before your conversation, asking permission before you record and thanking them for their time will make you look professional and get your interviewee to open up to you.
- Listen. Do you really want to learn how to interview someone for a podcast? The secret is simple: just listen. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many interviewers dominate the conversation by asking long questions, going off on tangents and taking up more airtime than their guest.
- Get approval. Lastly, always send your guest the edited podcast to review and sign off on before releasing it. No one likes to be misrepresented or taken out of context, and the last thing you need is an angry email the day after your podcast airs.
5. Tell A Story
After conducting an interview, you’ll find yourself staring at one or more massive audio files packed with content. Your next task will be to listen back and edit the interview into a compelling story that fits within your podcast’s time frame—no easy feat.
Maybe you talked for an hour but your podcast is only 30 minutes long, or your guest stumbled over their words a lot and the recording needs some serious cleanup. Whatever the case, the editing stage gives you the opportunity to mold the raw interview into a cohesive finished product.
There are many ways to tell a story, and it’s up to you to decide which is best for your podcast. Should you present the information in chronological order, or start with your guest’s current situation and then explain how they got there? Are there details that came out later in the conversation that your audience needs to know up front?
One final thing to keep in mind is not to edit too heavily. It’s usually best to retain a natural feel, even if it means leaving a few “ums” and “ahs” in.
Follow these simple podcast interview tips and start creating engaging content that keeps your listeners hooked!