Without solid podcast interview questions, not even the most exciting guest in the world will produce any value for your listeners. In the rush to find great guest speakers, you may forget that you actually have to ask them things to get great content out of them.
The most popular podcast in the world today is interview-based, inspiring thousands of people to try their hand at the craft. To make your show really stand out, you have to be a good interviewer who can bring unprecedented insight to your listeners.
At the core of a great interview, we find excellent questions. So in this guide, we’ll provide you with X outstanding questions to get the most out of each of your interview podcasts. After that, we’ll give you some pointers on crafting your own questions and how to go about asking them.
At the core of a great interview, we find excellent questions. Let’s jump in and look at some of the best podcast interview questions.
- The Best Podcast Interview Question Ideas
- Things to Remember When Asking Questions
- How to Create Amazing Podcast Interview Questions
- It’s Showbusiness, Baby!
The Best Podcast Interview Question Ideas
The kinds of questions you’re going to ask will vary widely depending on the context. For example, if you’re interviewing a soccer star, you likely won’t spend too much time discussing their opinions on the Oxford Comma.
The right time and place for each variety of questions will ultimately be up to you, the interviewer. That said, we’ve taken the liberty of dividing our question ideas into separate categories for your convenience. For your next interview, consider these interrogatives:
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Best Questions to Start Your Interview With
You must start your interview off right to set the right tone going forward. It’s important to ask questions that are interesting enough not to seem boring but light enough to not come on too strong. So let’s start off with some easier light-hearted questions like:
- What’s your morning routine, and why?
- Who has been your biggest influence throughout your life?
- How do you define “success?”
- What was your favorite subject in high school?
- What is one thing the people you work with would be surprised to learn?
- How did you get started in your career?
However, sometimes the best question is just to ask the interviewee to briefly introduce themselves and how they got started in the related field that you are talking about in your podcast interview. Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you have a podcast about entrepreneurship. You’ve invited a successful entrepreneur to your podcast to talk about their experience with creating their brand. Your first question could be as simple as: tell us a little bit about yourself and why you started your brand.
Best Professional Expertise Questions
If you’re interviewing someone for their professional expertise, these kinds of questions will be the core of your interview. We always want to make sure we’re asking the right questions to give your audience a really unique perspective. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in your field?
- When did you decide that you wanted to [insert career field here]?
- What are some of the most important lessons you’ve ever learned in your career?
- Have you ever had a mentor?
- If you could start a new business this week, what would it be?
- How do you maximize your productivity throughout the day?
- What unique skills do you have that contributed most to your success?
- How do you balance your work and your personal life?
- If your team’s budget was tripled right now, what would you spend it on?
- When’s your most productive time of the day?
- What aspect of your personality do you think has been the most helpful in your career?
- What’s the worst mistake you’ve made in your career, and how did you overcome it?
- What professional tools could you not live without? Software or hardware.
- What’s something you’ve always done differently than others in your field?
- What’s the best thing someone can have on their resume if applying to work for you?
- With the rise of independent learning, do you believe that recruiters will move away from college requirements?
- Let’s say you’re about to hire a really great candidate when you discover they had a slight exaggeration on their resume. If they’re otherwise solid, do you still hire them?
Best Personal Questions
Once you’ve built rapport with your guest, you can move on to more personal questions that will form a deeper connection between your guest and your audience. It’s okay to ask hard questions – just make sure you go about it the right way. It’s all about reading the room. So what questions should you ask? Let’s look at a couple of examples:
- What’s your favorite saying? What quote would you put on your headstone?
- Where do you see yourself in ten years?
- Which family member has had the biggest impact on your life?
- What advice would you give to 16-year-old you?
- What do you see as your greatest accomplishment?
- Do you have an ancestor you admire?
- What was the lowest time of your life, and how did you turn it around?
- How are you similar to your parents? How are you different?
- When’s a time you stood up for something, even though you knew it would be unpopular?
- Have you ever told a white lie to get ahead?
- What do your parents think about your career?
Best Offbeat Questions
Asking more offbeat and lighthearted questions is a great way to get to know your guest and relieve tension from more serious topics. Each of these questions has the potential to branch off into beautiful conversations. Questions like:
- Do you believe in learning types? Do you think certain people learn best a certain way (Auditory, kinetic, visual, et cetera)?
- What do you think the world will look like in 20 years?
- If you could only watch five movies for the rest of your life, which ones would you choose?
- What famous historical figure do you like to imagine you’re descended from?
- What was your favorite field trip during your school years?
- Do you see yourself as more of an introvert or an extrovert? Maybe a combination of both?
- What’s the weirdest resume you’ve received?
- Do you use social media? Why or why not?
Best Closing Questions
As you’re closing your interview, it’s essential to finish strong to make your session satisfying. Generally speaking, the best closing questions leave the audience thinking – and with a bit of homework. Questions like:
- Is there a question you wish I had asked you? What would your answer have been?
- What advice would you give to anyone in the audience pursuing a field similar to yours?
- Where can we find you online?
- What books would you recommend to the audience, and why?
- Where can our listeners learn more about [any exciting topic you discussed]?
Things to Remember When Asking Questions
As important as it is to ask great interview questions, it’s equally important to go about doing it the right way. So when interviewing your guest, consider these principles:
- Avoid boring questions: You worked hard to get your guest on the show, so don’t waste everyone’s time with low-effort questions. While it’s sometimes necessary to ask simple interrogatives, try to find a more exciting approach.
- Start off easy: Don’t immediately go pedal to the metal and fire off personal questions on round one. It’s essential to build proper chemistry and trust with your guest before delving into more personal matters. Otherwise, you’re going to come off as brash and invasive.
- Maintain a positive attitude: Make sure that you’re always promoting a welcoming environment for your guests so that they’re comfortable. Don’t offer out unsolicited opinions or judgments on any answers they give. This way, your guest will be comfortable answering even the deepest of questions without any friction.
How to Create Amazing Podcast Interview Questions
Some of the world’s most famous journalists earned their reputations for the quality and memorability of their interviews. However, at the core of their work are excellent and engaging questions.
Make no mistake: coming up with good questions is a skill. If you want your podcast interviews to be successful, you’ll need to learn it. Otherwise, you’re not going to stand out and your podcast will fall flat. Quality is everything.
Above, I’ve shared with you some great questions that will serve as a solid starting point. That said, the best questions to ask will vary based upon who exactly it is you’re interviewing. Like a snowflake, no podcast is the same.
To provide an experience that keeps both your audience and your guest on their toes, you’ll need to learn to craft great questions. Here’s how:
1. Understand Your Interview’s Goal
No matter who your guest is, there needs to be an objective for every interview. You need to understand why you’re bringing this particular person onto your show and what you’re hoping to learn from them.
With your goal in mind, you’ll be able to always steer your conversation in a way that fulfills it. Your plan will also tell you exactly what information you need from your guest and what questions to ask to get it.
2. Perform Background Research
If your guest is worth inviting onto your show, they’re worth learning about before actually arriving there. As you might imagine, learning about your guest will naturally inspire all sorts of questions.
Take the time to learn about that person, their environment, and what makes them tick. For example, if they’re an entrepreneur, you should know all about their previous ventures, their current ones, and how they got started. If they’re a famous tennis player, you should know all their famous tournaments, accolades, rivalries, and everything in between.
You get the picture. From solid background research comes good questions. The information you learn will enable you to craft intelligent, thought-provoking inquiries.
Another thing that good background research accomplishes is that it highlights questions that the guest might have already answered on previous podcasts or in previous articles. Take the time to listen and read about your guest. Look at what type of questions they’ve already answered, and try to come up with new ones. This will make your podcast episode unique.
3. Think About Your Guest’s Intentions
No matter who your guest is, there’s going to be a particular reason why they’ve taken the time to participate in your interview. As the host, your goal is to understand why that is and build your show around it.
Let’s say you had world-famous chef Gordon Ramsey on your show. In all likelihood, he’s going to want to discuss something related to his culinary career. If you offer him a bunch of questions about his favorite sports – or his opinions on the Oxford Comma – he’s probably going to be pretty confused and produce a poor-quality interview.
Let them talk about their book if they’re on a book tour. If they’re about to premiere a new movie, let them talk about their film. Your questions should revolve around what interests your guests the most, or else you’re going to leave both them and your audience unsatisfied.
Your job as a good host is to create an environment where your guest is most likely to succeed. So don’t be afraid to simply ask your guest in advance what kinds of topics they want to discuss on the show.
Pro-tip: If your guest is trying to promote a product, see if they have an affiliate program that can turn the interview into a money-making opportunity for both of you.
4. Ask Yourself: Do These Questions Create a Juicy Conversation?
Your questions must always create juicy conversations that you’d want to listen in on. At the end of the day, your goal is to entertain your audience. Even if your podcast is full of good information, that will only go so far if it’s a snooze-fest.
That’s one reason that we included personal and whimsical questions. These can create deep and entertaining conversations that leave your listener’s plenty to chew on. If it’s a conversation you’d want to eavesdrop on, then your audience will probably agree.
Bonus: Send Your Questions in Advance
We highly recommend sending a rough outline of the kinds of questions and topics you want to cover to your guest in advance. This will enable your guest to give much higher-quality answers than they would at the moment and create an overall richer experience for your audience.
This is simply because they’ll have time to think deeply about their answers rather than just talk about whatever comes to mind. You can choose how specific you are with the topics and questions to fit the level of spontaneity you prefer.
It’s Showbusiness, Baby!
Whatever your particular niche is, your goal as a podcaster is to produce an interview that is both valuable and entertaining. Too much focus on entertainment and your interview will lack substance. Too much emphasis is on pure information, and your discussion will be monotonous.
That’s why it’s essential that you craft questions that cater to both principles. Each kind of question has its purpose. For instance, industry questions get professional insight, personal questions build a deeper connection with your guest, and whimsical questions keep the show fun.
In this guide, we’ve shown you how to craft high-quality podcast interview questions that will engage both your guest and your audience. Now, the rest is up to you. So get out there, and show the world your interviewing prowess!
Samuel Szuchan is the founder of SamSzu.com, where entrepreneurs are learning to scale their businesses like never before. His experience in the world of online money-making derives from his previous ventures and his current entrepreneurial pursuits. When he’s not teaching others, he can be found playing the amateur food critic around town.