Coming up with interesting, unique, challenging podcast interview questions isn’t always easy.
In fact, it can be the most stressful part of running an interview-style podcast (besides finding awesome guests to actually interview). Asking engaging interview questions is certainly one of the most crucial elements when hosting a guest on your podcast.
Think of it this way: you’ve worked hard to connect with this person and line them up as a guest on your podcast. If you’ve done that, it’s probably because you think they have something important and valuable to offer your audience. But the only way your podcast audience is actually going to gain anything from listening to this interview is if you ask your guest the right questions.
Podcasts episodes with even the most interesting guests can fall flat when interviewees have very little to work with. The responsibility falls on you, the interviewer. It’s your job to open the door between your podcast guest and your audience.
But here’s the thing: just because it’s important, doesn’t mean it has to be stressful! It’s always a great idea to brush up on tips for being a better interviewer. But we know you’ve got enough on your plate as a podcaster. There’s no need for you to spend hours upon hours coming up with incredible questions on your own. That’s why we’ve put together a list of great podcast interview questions that you need to ask your next guest.
1. What’s one thing you wish you had known when you began your career?
When you’re preparing interview questions, you want to think not only about your guest but about why your audience is interested in this guest. Oftentimes, listeners tune in because they’re in the same field as your guest (or want to be). This question provides value to your audience by giving them insight into what a successful person in this field wishes they had known at the very beginning.
2. What is your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?
It’s fun to talk about successes. But we often don’t get to see the hardships, stumbling blocks, or failures that people who are hugely successful have experienced along the way. This question can get your guest talking about something that they probably don’t discuss very often and gives your audience perspective on their own failures. It also encourages vulnerability which, though uncomfortable at times, can allow your listeners to connect with your guest on an even deeper level.
3. What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career similar to yours?
The previous questions kept the audience in mind, as well as your guest. But this question speaks directly to your audience. This is a high-value question that will often result in great soundbites and even better content.
Pro Tip: Easily share these soundbites on Instagram & Twitter using Wavve to create an animated video clip.
And it benefits your guest too. Usually, anybody who has experienced a lot of success wants to help other people follow in their footsteps. This interview question gives your guest the opportunity to share their wisdom.
4. What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?
This is essentially a spoken version of the “Further Reading” sections that you sometimes find at the end of non-fiction books. And it’s yet another way for your guest to share valuable information with your audience. Plus, everybody likes to come away from a podcast with a list of new books to read or podcasts to listen to.
Bonus question! What have you read or listened to recently that inspired you?
5. Who are the three people who have been the most influential to you?
With this question, your guest is not limited to only talking about people who have taught them or guided them in their career. That may be the direction that your guest chooses to go, but this question gives them the opportunity to share stories about anyone who has influenced their lives- be it a mentor or a relative, someone they know or one they’ve never even met.
And putting a numbered limit on it is good for two reasons. One: it guarantees that the time spent on this question will be limited. And two: it can help guide your guest. If you ask simply who has been the most influential, they may think of 20 people or only one. Asking for a specific number can encourage the guest to focus and pick the people who have influenced them the most.
6. What is the one common myth about your profession or field that you want to debunk?
When you’re passionate about something, there’s a good chance that you long to challenge any falsities or misconceptions that surround it. This question gives your guest the opportunity to pick a myth that they think needs to be addressed. And it could be one you weren’t even aware of!
7. If you could step into my shoes, what would you have asked yourself that I didn’t?
This is another fairly uncommon question. Many podcasters (and interviewers, in general) don’t want to even suggest that they may have missed something when they were writing up their interview questions. But, the fact is, there’s a good chance you might have. Unless you’re a top expert in the same field as your podcast guest, there’s a possibility that you didn’t even know enough to ask all of the best questions. Or, maybe there’s something that you had no idea your guest was dying to talk about.
This question acts as a sort of free-for-all, where your guest gets to take a minute or two to talk about anything they want.
8. Where can our listeners connect with you online?
This gives your podcast guest a chance to plug their own social media handles, website, etc. Your guests will appreciate you promoting them, and your listeners will appreciate the opportunity to continue following their favorites.
9. [Insert Your Signature Question]?
Try creating a signature question related to your niche that you ask every time. For example, Curt Mercadante has a podcast called The Freedom Club on which he always asks his guests, “What does Freedom mean to you?” Ending your interview on a signature question gives your podcast a sense of continuity, and could even become an element that your podcast is known for.
What are your can’t-miss podcast interview questions that you like to ask your guests? Share your favorites in the comments!
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Elizabeth T. Banda
This helped me a lot and will help me structure my podcast questions. Thank you for this article, I need to figure out a signature question though.