How to Prepare for a Podcast Interview

Laura Kloot • April 30, 2020
how to prepare for a podcast interview

Interviews are a really popular podcast format. Hosting a podcast interview gives you the opportunity to introduce your audience to new ideas and influencers they may not have heard before. The conversation that arises between you, the host, and the guest you are interviewing can make for really entertaining and engaging content.

Plus, for podcasters who broadcast regularly, hosting an interview mixes it up a little, bringing a fresh voice to your usual playlist and helping you stay creative and original. You don’t even need to look for well-known names or famous people – in a survey by The Podcast Host, when asked how important it is to have heard of the podcast guest when choosing which podcast to listen to, respondents gave a rating of just 4.6 out of 10. Clearly, roping in those big stars for your podcast interview is really not as important as you might think. More crucial than the star factor is ensuring the podcast interview is fun, informative, and relatable. That’s what will draw in the audience.

So what does it take to make a great podcast interview? What’s the best way to prepare for a podcast interview? Here are four key methods not to overlook:

Create a structure

Although a great podcast interview sounds relaxed, and the conversation just seems to flow, this is not something that comes out of thin air. The best podcast interviews are pre-prepared with a basic structure and outline. Unless the guest is extremely adept at being interviewed, they won’t necessarily be able to improvise easily. And the last thing you want is to have awkward silences or unexpected questions that leave the guest tongue-tied.

On the other hand, there is no need to plan out the interview word for word. There definitely needs to be room for the natural flow of the conversation to take its course. This is a great way to ensure that interesting tangents and new ideas come up.

Rather, to prepare for the podcast interview, start by defining the goal or purpose of the interview. What is the main message or direction you want to impart from the interview for your listeners? What do you want your audience to take away from it? Once you have decided on these key aspects, you can go about formulating the flow and structure of the interview. This is the best way to make sure that you’ll be able to deliver on the ‘promise’ of the podcast interview to your audience.

Try to find an original angle

Like every type of online content, there’s a lot of competition and repetition out there, and every content creator is vying for that exciting angle. Videos, blog posts, podcasts – making sure you are not producing the ‘same old, same old’ content is one of the most difficult challenges.

The best way around this problem is by finding an original angle that adds something to the overall conversation. Don’t just recycle the same conversations that everyone is having. Look at the reason why you chose this particular guest. What was it that drew them to you? What is special and interesting about them? Try to pinpoint the perspective they can bring that is different from all the other podcasts and interviews of your competitors, and focus on that. Expand it and make it the central theme. In short, make sure the podcast interview is giving your podcast audience some form of added value or a new way of looking at things that makes it ‘not just another podcast interview’.

Listen to previous interviews the guest has done

If your guest has been interviewed before, make sure to listen! This is a really important part of the essential pre-interview research you must do. The last thing you want is to conduct an interview that’s just like all the other ones they ever did. Get hold of a few of their recent interviews and hear them out. See if you can dig out some interesting points that you can use as a jumping-off point for your interview. Keep some notes about things they have already discussed numerous times before, and avoid repeating all the stuff that’s already been covered ad nauseam.

Plus, it’s best to avoid dragging out their bio details in a boring monologue during the podcast introduction. A brief, compelling recap of the salient points is enough, which will leave you more time to dive into the interesting and original bits. 

Prepare your Q&As

The best podcast interviews don’t leave things to chance. Formulate the questions in a logical order well in advance, so you can be sure of the general flow before you hit the airwaves. You can share them with the guest a few days before if you like, to give them a chance to prepare for the more tricky ones. You’re not asking them to develop answers upfront, but rather just showing them the general direction of the interview as a courtesy so they know what to expect and won’t be caught off guard. They may even want a brief chat with you before the big day just to clarify some of the discussion points. Whether they do or don’t, it’s definitely advisable to invest time and thought in this part of the process. It will free up the energy you might otherwise spend worrying about what question to ask next, and how they might answer it. Then you can more easily relax with the flow of the interview and let the conversation take a natural, powerful course.

Podcast interviews may seem like an easy way to fill your playlist, but actually they demand a lot of background thought and preparation. Use the guiding tips above to stay on the right track and prepare for a killer podcast interview that brings in the listeners.