Interviewing is at least part of most podcasts’ format. For many, it is the crux of the show. Therefore developing the skill of being a good interviewer will make or break your podcast. That start with killer interview questions.
It is a skill.
One you have to work to prefect.
One you have to practice.
At the core of being a good interviewer is creating killer interview questions.
Why The 5 W’s and H Are Horrible Interview Questions
The first thing a lot of people think of when they start planning interview questions is the old reporter’s maxim of Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
That’s a horrible place to start a live interview.
Being a good interviewer for a podcast goes beyond getting the information you want from the person you are interviewing. It is about entertaining as well as informing your listener. When a reporter, generally a print reporter, is asking those questions it is so they can later write up an informative news story.
You need better questions.
I’ve made a one page PDF of 22 interview questions and question formulas you can use.
Open Ended Questions
Never ask a question that can be answered in one word. If you do, that’s what you’ll get.
That’s a horrible answer for a live podcast interview.
Yes or No questions are forbidden. Ask questions requiring the interviewee to talk in order to answer.
If you do interviews for long, you’ll experience a guest you have to pull every answer out of. Some of the tips below will help with that, but the core solution is not to ask a yes or no question.
(How to deal with people who just won’t shut up is a topic for another time)
Good starters for open-ended questions that will encourage interviewees to talk are:
“Tell me about a time when…”
“Tell me the story of how…”
It may seem weird to say the key to being a good interviewer is to listen. We think an interviewer is about talking, but the great ones listen first.
If you really want to get interesting answers, you are going to have to become a great listener. It is a newbie mistake to have a list of questions and then just go through them one after another. When you are new, you get nervous and focus on the next step or question. Then you forget to actually listen to the answer you are getting.
Listening is so important.
First, you have to listen to make sure you have gotten an actual answer to your question. Lots of times people don’t really answer what you asked. Either they misunderstood the question, or they just avoided the question. In either case, you want to know what they said. You have to be listening. If they didn’t answer the question, you can ask it again to get a real answer or use some of the techniques in the next section.
Second, you need to listen because sometimes you get an answer that leads to something great. People don’t always know how to express themselves, and a careful listener can catch a trail that gives great insight into the subject.
Listening also helps and leads to…
It is very rare you get a killer answer to a question the first time it is answered. You are going to need to ask some follow-up questions to get really good information.
If they give you too short an answer, you can mirror them. Simply repeat the last few words they said. This usually causes people to give you more information.
You: “What kind of workout do you recommend a newbie does first?”
Them: “I’d say cardio.”
Them: “Yeah cardio. Something to get the heart pumping.”
You: “Get the heart pumping?”
Them: “Yeah it is important to get the blood flowing into your muscles before you start lifting to prevent injury and increase the work you can do.”
Other Great Followup Questions
You can ask people to go more in depth on the topic. Even something as easy as, “Tell me that story” can get you a deeper more interesting interview.
Ask “How did that make you feel?” to get the emotion of the story.
Ask “How did you handle that?” to get advice others can use.
Hopefully, you’ve learned how to actively listen to your interviewee and follow up to get the best most interesting interviews. Like I said at the beginning interviewing is a skill. One that people have written whole books on and you will study and develop through your whole podcasting career. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you would like some really cool questions to use click here and I’ll send you a PDF with 22 Interview Questions you can use and adapt to your podcast.
We also offer free webinars on a weekly basis that will help you discover who your audience is and how to reach them to grow your podcast. You can sign up for the next one here.