Podcast Interview Etiquette: Dos And Don’ts For A Successful And Respectful Conversation

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Among the various podcast formats, interview podcasts hold a unique allure, allowing hosts to conduct interesting interviews and get insights from a diverse array of guests. However, the art of conducting a successful podcast interview goes far beyond simply hitting the record button and asking questions.

I’m Niall Mackay, host of several shows including Vietnam Is Awesome, Smarter Podcasting, DeltaMV’s Insight Bites, and founder of Seven Million Bikes Podcasts. I have conducted many interviews before with guests from different countries. At the start, I faced a lot of difficulties and I know you are struggling with them, too. Don’t worry, as a podcast host, I’m here to give some practical tips for a great podcast interview.

The Mastering art of the best interview podcasts involves a skillful arrangement of conversation, thoughtful preparation, and an ability to connect with podcast guests on a deeper level, fostering an enriching and engaging experience for both you and your audience.

Niall Mackay- The Podcast Guy

Preparing For An Interview Podcast

An interview podcast is a podcast format, where the podcast hosts/co-hosts and guests engage in interviews and insightful conversations. Interview podcasts cover a wide range of topics, depending on the interests and expertise of the host and the type of guests you invite.

By thoroughly preparing for the interview, you set the stage for a successful and engaging podcast episode that will leave a lasting impact on your audience and make your guest feel valued and appreciated.

Research Your Guests

Understand the niche and theme of your own podcast. Identify the topics and subjects that resonate with your target audience. Knowing your audience’s interests will help you select guests whose expertise aligns with your podcast’s focus, ensuring that the content remains relevant and valuable to your listeners.

Great guests like fresh air to your podcast as they bring new views, opinions, and knowledge to your podcast as well as your audience.

Once you have a list of podcast guests, research their backgrounds, achievements, and expertise. Read the guest’s story, articles, or watch their previous interviews to get a sense of their style and vibe.

Pay attention to how the potential guest communicates in public forums or social media. Do they prefer formal or casual conversations? Are they more focused on data and statistics, or do they share personal anecdotes and stories?

Defining The Purpose And Goals Of Your Podcast Interviews

Before starting the interview, clearly define the purpose and goals you want to achieve with the conversation.

Ask yourself what valuable insights or knowledge you want your audience to gain from the episode. Understanding the objectives will give your interview direction and structure, ensuring that you cover essential topics and create a meaningful discussion.

Crafting Thoughtful And Engaging Questions

A good interview podcast requires a well-prepared script, especially when your show has two or three hosts. You should prepare a podcast outline template or script that includes the interview questions you’re going to ask your podcast guest.

Consider open-ended, follow-up questions based on your guest’s answers that encourage the guest to elaborate and share personal experiences. By asking engaging questions, you can draw out compelling stories and insights that will captivate your audience.

Interview with script

Use AI

Using AI tools like ChatGPT can significantly enhance your preparation for a podcast interview.

Firstly, you can use ChatGPT to brainstorm and generate topic ideas for your interview, ensuring you cover relevant and engaging subjects. It can also help you refine your questions by simulating potential responses from guests, making them more insightful.

Additionally, ChatGPT can assist in researching your guest’s background and expertise, providing valuable information to tailor your questions accordingly. Practicing mock interviews with ChatGPT can boost your confidence and refine your interviewing skills.

Furthermore, the tool can help transcribe and analyze past interviews, identifying patterns and improving your approach. Overall, AI-powered tools streamline your preparation, leading to more informative and captivating podcast interviews.

Technical Set-up

Technical issues can disrupt the flow of an otherwise fantastic interview. Before recording, ensure that your recording equipment is set up correctly and tested for quality. Check your microphone, headphones, and recording software to avoid any unexpected glitches during the interview.

Also, turn off your phone, or turn on airplane mode to ensure there would be no external sounds.

Additionally, confirm that your guest has the necessary technical setup for smooth communication. A brief pre-interview call to address any technical concerns can help prevent potential problems during the actual recording.

And most of all – don’t make the same mistake I did once, ok maybe twice… HIT RECORD!

Conducting An Interesting Interview – Things To Do

To conduct a great interview, here are some small tips that I usually apply for my interview podcasts.

Create A Comfortable Environment

Creating a comfortable atmosphere is essential, especially when you and your guest haven’t met before.

Here are some tips to establish a positive connection:

Warm Welcome

As the guest joins the recording, greet them warmly and sincerely. A simple “Hello” or “Welcome to the show” with a smile can set a positive tone right from the start. Give a short bio of your guest at first.

This initial warmth can help put the guest at ease, especially if they may be feeling nervous or unsure about the interview.

Engage in Small Talk

Begin the interview with some light and casual conversations. Ask about their day, how they’ve been, or any recent events in their life. This small talk serves two purposes: it helps break the ice and creates a comfortable atmosphere, and it also gives you a chance to transition smoothly into the main interview.

Find Common Ground

During the small talk or research phase, look for any shared interests or experiences you may have with the guest. Mentioning these shared connections can instantly create a sense of camaraderie and make the guest feel like they are talking to someone who understands and appreciates their world.

Actively Listen

Listening actively is a fundamental skill for any interviewer, and it is crucial for conducting a successful interview podcast. Actively listening means more than just hearing the words spoken by the guest; it involves being fully present and engaged in the conversation in depth.

Stay Focused

Avoid distractions and maintain eye contact with the guest, whether you are conducting an in-person or remote interview. Give them your full attention, as it shows respect for their time and insights.

Allow the guest to express their thoughts fully without interrupting them. Interruptions can disrupt the flow of their responses and may cause them to lose their train of thought.

Podcast Interview

Observe Emotions

There is some non-verbal or body language that your guest expresses by emotions, tone, or gestures.

Pay attention to the guest’s expressions. Emotions can convey valuable information that a few words may not express. If the guest appears excited, enthusiastic, or emotional about a topic, consider exploring it further.

Choose Questions Wisely

Craft podcast questions that align with the guest’s expertise and experiences. Tailoring your questions to their unique perspective will bring out insightful and personalized responses.

Instead of asking yes-or-no questions, opt for open-ended questions that encourage the guest to elaborate and share their thoughts in detail. Pay attention to the guest’s responses and ask follow-up questions based on their answers. This shows active listening and keeps the conversation flowing naturally.

Maintain Dynamic Conversations

Maintaining a dynamic conversation is crucial for keeping your interview engaging and creating a better listening experience. It also shows your unique insight and style that other podcasts don’t have.

Instead of rigidly following a script, approach the interview as a flowing conversation.

Mix Serious and Light-Hearted Moments

Mix serious and informative questions with lighter, more casual inquiries to create a well-rounded interview. Incorporate questions about the guest’s hobbies or interests outside their expertise to show a more human side.

Inject humor

Injecting humor works best when it feels natural and genuine. Be yourself and let your personality shine through while maintaining professionalism.

If you have a funny story or experience related to the topic of discussion, share it during the conversation.

While humor can enhance the interview, it’s essential to steer clear of any jokes or comments that may be offensive or inappropriate. Always prioritize respect and sensitivity.

To see how the podcast host of some popular podcasts can maintain a natural flow of conversations, listen to these best interview podcasts.

Asking Interesting Question

Things To Avoid When Conducting An Interesting Interview

Above are some good tips for you to do in your interview podcast, but there’s also something you shouldn’t do with your guest while interviewing process.

Excessive Banter and Chat

This may be the number 1 reason I would stop listening to a podcast immediately and find another one. If you do this you could be turning off listeners and losing them forever.

I heard it put this way once and I couldn’t agree more, “If I wanted to hear two people bantering and chatting I would just go to a bar.”

However witty and funny you are in real life, podcasting is generally not the place for you and a friend to have a casual chit-chat. Your podcast should have a niche, a purpose, and value and your aim with every episode should be to deliver that.

So, avoid going off on tangents and indulging in excessive banter during your podcast. It can divert focus from the main topic, wasting precious time and potentially harming your credibility as a host.

Your audience seeks valuable insights, not aimless chatter. Stick to the subject matter to keep them engaged and satisfied.

Rambling may cause listeners to disconnect and look for more focused content elsewhere. Stay on track, prepare your topics, and maintain a professional yet relatable tone to deliver a podcast that captivates your audience and leaves a lasting impact.

Rambling or Lengthy Monologues

Guests agree to participate in interviews to share their knowledge and insights with your audience. Dominating the conversation with lengthy monologues can make the guest feel like their time is being wasted and their expertise undervalued.

Monologues can veer off-topic, which can confuse listeners and diminish the interview’s clarity. Staying on track and sticking to relevant questions will ensure a coherent and focused discussion.

Tips to avoid them:

  • Prepare Thoughtful Questions
  • Practice Concise Speaking
  • Set Time Limits
  • Stay Mindful of the Audience

Asking Inappropriate Questions

As an interviewer, it is essential to be mindful of asking inappropriate questions during an interview. Inappropriate questions can make guests uncomfortable, damage their trust, and reflect poorly on your professionalism as a podcast host.

If you do plan to ask some challenging questions then ask the guest for permission before the recording to ask them. And respect their answer.

Unless you have specific permission then avoid asking these types of questions to ensure the quality of your interview

  • Leading Questions

These questions lead the guest to a specific answer or opinion. They can create a biased interview where the guest feels pressured to conform to the interviewer’s perspective. This can compromise the objectivity and authenticity of the guest’s responses.

  • Personal Or Intrusive Questions

Avoid delving into the guest’s personal life or asking about sensitive or private matters, such as their finances, relationships, or health issues. Focus on their professional expertise and experiences.

  • Controversial or Provocative Topics

While some topics may be relevant to your podcast’s theme, avoid pushing guests to discuss controversial or provocative subjects without their prior consent. Maintain a positive and constructive tone throughout the interview.

Overusing Jargon or Technical Language

Jargon is the specialized language that is specific to certain fields or industries.

Using excessive jargon or technical language can alienate your audience and make the interviewee feel out of place. As a podcast host, it’s important to strike a balance between providing insightful content and ensuring that your listeners can easily understand and engage with the conversation.

The primary goal of an interview podcast is to facilitate effective communication between the host, guest, and audience. When jargon is overused, it can hinder clear and meaningful communication, leading to misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

To prevent it, you should:

  • Prioritize clarity over impressiveness
  • Avoid acronyms
  • Ask for clarification when guests use these terms
Don't Overuse Jargon

Podcast Interview Etiquette Overview

Conducting an interview-based podcast is an art that requires careful orchestration and thoughtful execution. By following these tips and best practices, you can elevate your podcasting skills and create captivating content that keeps your audience coming back for more.

There are three main stages in your creative process, preparing, conducting, and editing your interview podcast. Each stage has different tips, dos and don’ts things. These are the practical tips that I have learned and applied during my podcast journey.

Now, you are well-equipped with podcast interview etiquette, grab your mic and start recording now.

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