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How to Improve Your Podcast Interview Skills [10 Do’s and Don’ts]

Having guests on your podcast is a really great way to grow your community, strengthen your niche authority, besides the fact that it adds some incredible value to your audience! 

Related read: How To Build A Strong Podcast Community

So, if you haven’t yet dipped your toe into hosting podcast interviews, there’s no time like the present!

But while I’m sure you can agree that having some amazing guests on your podcast would be an incredible opportunity, it may also be a little daunting, particularly if you’re used to going solo on your show. And if you tend to be more introverted, you may also fear not being able to keep the conversation going throughout an interview.

But never fear! As always, we’ve got you covered! While it’s true that some may have been born with the gift of the gab and are naturally great conversationalists, the great news is that conducting a stellar interview is a skill you can learn and master! 

That’s right! You can learn to be an excellent podcast interviewer and have your name ranked amongst some of the great podcast hosts out there! 

We’ve put together our top 10 podcast interview do’s and don’ts for podcast hosts which will help steer you in the right direction when it comes to hosting guests on your show, and will help you hone your interviewing skills in no time!

Related read: Everything You Need To Invite And Book Your Next Podcast Guest (Email Templates Included!)

And so without further ado, here are:

Our Top 10 Podcast Interview Do’s and Don’ts

1. Do Be On Time

And by “on time” we mean EARLY! Nothing sets the tone for a bad interview like a mad rush before the time. Whatever time you’ve planned to meet your podcast guest, whether safely in person or via the wonder that is the Internet, make sure you are ready and all set up well in advance. 

If your guest arrives or signs in and you’re still frantically getting your set-up ready, not only will it delay the start of your interview, waste your guests time, or prevent you from getting the best content, but it also doesn’t give a good impression of you and your show. Rather show up earlier than necessary so that you’re able to overcome any technical issues or other hiccups long before your guest shows up.

2. Do Create a Welcoming Environment

The power of a warm and welcoming environment should not be underestimated when it comes to leading engaging conversations. If your guest feels welcomed and respected when they enter your space, you’ll put them at ease right from the start, and you’ll be able to get to the heart of your topic that much easier. 

Now, there are no real hard and fast rules when it comes to creating a “welcoming environment” as every personality may interrupt this a different way. But the main takeaway is that your guest should feel comfortable and at ease, and this has to do with the way you treat them. Be kind, courteous, and professional in your interactions, listen actively and intently as they share with you, and you’ll create a space where guests feel welcomed, and you’ll get some great content!

3. Do Be Prepared

A successful interview is more often than not made in the preparation stage. Whenever you know you have an interview coming up, start by doing thorough research on your guest. Learn as much about them as possible, taking note of their achievements and accomplishments. If they’ve written books or given talks, it’s a great idea to read and watch these, as you’ll then be able to confidently ask questions that will give your listeners the best value. 

Pro Tip: Look for opportunities to ask unique questions or ways to lead your guest to tell their unique stories. This is particularly useful if your guest is someone who is often interviewed. Watch some of their previous interviews to help you get a feel for the type of questions they are typically asked, then try to steer clear of those, or ask them in unique ways. 

4. Do Be Confident

We get it! Interviewing people you admire and respect can be daunting! But don’t let fear inhibit you from getting a great interview! Remember, you’ve worked hard to create a great show, you’ve done your research, and put in the preparation time. Now, go out there with confidence and have a great time with your guests!

You obviously don’t want to come across as an obnoxious know-it-all, but not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about confidence that comes from trusting your instincts, knowing that you’ve done the work, and having faith in your knowledge and abilities. Allow these to give you the confidence to converse with your guest, ask the right questions, and respond with insight. 

5. Do Be Present

We all know how incredibly frustrating it is when you feel as if you’re not being listened to or heard. Now often, when it comes to podcast interviews, it is not the host’s intention to not give their guest’s their full attention, but sometimes, you can get so caught up in the direction you want the interview to go and all the questions you want to get through, that you forget to just listen to what your guest is saying. That’s why Do Number 5 is Be Present. 

When your guest is answering one of your questions or giving insight into a topic, learn to really stop and listen to what they are saying. You may find that their answer sparks a completely different question to the ones you so diligently prepared, but this new direction may lead to even better content for your listeners. By staying present, you’ll be able to hop onto this new train of thought, and expertly direct the interview, even if it is to unchartered waters! 

Related read: 6 Strategies For Improving Your Podcast Interview Questions

6. Don’t Ask Overly Personal Questions

While you should do thorough research into your guest so that you’re able to ask well-thought-out and poignant questions, you need to be careful that your questions are not overly personal or invasive. You definitely do not want to make your guest feel uncomfortable! Keep your questions to their professional endeavors, or parts of their personal life that lead to their personal or professional growth. 

7. Don’t Interrupt Your Guest

A very important skill any interviewer should learn is to not interrupt your guests! It can be incredibly frustrating for listeners when the host keeps interjecting or speaking over the guest. It can also read as quite rude, besides the fact that it breaks up the flow of the conversation. 

Now, it can happen that you get so excited at something profound your amazing guest has just shared that you can’t help expressing your feelings, and that is totally okay. Occasionally! What we’re talking about here is consistently interjecting and interrupting your guest before they’re able to complete their sentence. 

And while this can be frustrating to both your guest and your listeners, it’s thankfully something you can work on and improve, even as soon as your next interview! Simply make a conscious effort to allow your guest to finish speaking, before responding or adding your input.

8. Don’t Make it All About You

Yes, it’s your show. But the best podcast interviewers are the ones that really allow their guests to shine! It can seriously detract from all the value a guest brings to a podcast if the host keeps turning the conversation back towards themselves, their opinions, or their experiences.

Now don’t get us wrong, there is definitely space for you to share your input, and add value to the conversation, but just don’t do this with every point your guest makes! A great learning curve would be listening back to some of your past episodes to see how often you say “I” in those interviews. This could help you gauge your interactions and how often you bring the conversation back to yourself, and will give you great insight into where you can improve your interviewing skills for the future.

9. Don’t Waste Your Guest’s Time

We’ve already said how important it is for you to be ready and prepared well-ahead of your scheduled interview, but this “Don’t” refers to the time spent on the actual interview. Your guest has blocked out a certain amount of time to be there with you, so don’t abuse that by going well-past the scheduled slot because you keep going “off script.”

To clarify, it’s totally fine to go off on a tangent every now and then, or chat a little “off-topic” throughout the interview. This can actually be a good thing as it helps build the chemistry and banter between you and your guest, and this will add tons of value to the final episode. But you shouldn’t do this with every question. Not only can this come across as a little self-indulgent, but if you frustrate and tire your guest out with conversation that will mostly just be left on the editing floor, your final interview may start off really strong, but your audience will certainly hear when all the energy left the room and your guest mentally checked out! 

A great podcast interviewer is one who is able to read when an off-topic anecdote will add value and when they should move on to the next question or topic. This may take practice, but if you’re already focusing on being present (Shoutout to Number 5!) you’ll be able to pick up on these conversational cues that much easier.

10. Don’t Be in a Rush

Now, I realize how contradictory this “Don’t” sounds to “Don’t” Number 9, but hear us out. While you definitely do not want to waste your guests time, you also definitely do not want them to feel like you’re rushing through the interview. This can come across as rude and can make your guest feel like you’re not listening or would rather be somewhere else.

Again, it does take practice to judge the timing of your interview, but being present and being well-prepared will make it something you master quickly.

In Conclusion

There is no doubt that having guests on your podcast is a great strategy. Guests can help boost your following by introducing your show to their audience, it’s great for collaboration opportunities and network building, and most importantly, by having highly-revered and respected people on your show sharing their knowledge and insight with you and your listeners, you offer your audience amped up valuable content. So don’t be intimidated! Interview skills are something you can hone and master! It might not come naturally at first, but just by applying our 10 simple do’s and don’ts, you’ll have the knowledge and skills you need to conduct amazing guest interviews.

And who knows, soon some big names in your niche may be fighting for the chance to share the mic with YOU!

Check this out: If you’re looking to some great advice for recording hi-quality long-distance podcast interviews, check out this video from Buzzsprout! It shares 5 tips to help you record great long-distance podcast interviews no matter which recording software you use.

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Jennay Horn

Jennay Horn

Jennay is the Content Director at We Edit Podcasts

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