What if you could do a fantastic podcast interview with fascinating people every time? Following these 5 easy steps, you’ll develop strong creative processes that inspire insightful conversations and the best content.
First, what makes a good interview podcast? An iconic interviewer like Oprah Winfrey or a record-breaking podcast from a host like Marc Maron?
What makes the BEST interview podcasts? An unmistakable creative perspective, interesting people, amazingly revealing conversations, big questions, real-life stories, authentic human connection, and conversation everyday people can’t wait to hear — to name a few.
Good content starts with a good process that you refine – build on the steps below.
Step 1: Find a Podcast Interview Guest
Step 2: Book Your Podcast Guest
Step 3: Prepare Podcast Interview Questions
Step 4: Get Your Equipment & Guest Ready
Step 1: Find the Best Guest For Your Interview Podcast
Individuals that bring value to your audience should top your list of priorities when looking for guests to interview. Diverse people with in-depth knowledge, natural artistic expression, and niche topic thought-leaders are what tend to draw listeners. Your interviews shouldn’t be based on seeking your favorite celebrities, musicians, or best friend (although it is tempting). Your choice of invitations should rely strongly on your podcast goals.
Our how to start a podcast guide can help you define your goals.
When you’re just starting an interview podcast and don’t have a studio in your garage (think WTF with Marc Maron) or venture capitalists funding, vetting your guests is the best way to ensure the output is listen–worthy.
Qualify Interesting Guests for Podcast Interviews
You don’t have to check every box with every guest but do pay close attention to previous recording and interviewing experience. Interviewing someone with experience recording helps, especially when you are new to podcasting. Think through what makes them uniquely qualified for your podcast and what walks of life do they share in common or in contrast to your audience.
Interview podcasts allow you to share content creation with your guests. New co-hosts for every episode. The final podcast episode should reflect your intent as a host and be mindful of your guest and their special requests. If it is not a live recording, remind them they can restate things and that you will edit out mistakes. These simple reminders will put them at ease, and encourage a relaxed and natural conversation.
Hint: Be a considerate podcast host. This is so important, as your current guest could be the one that helps you book your next big interview.
The Libsyn Connect remote recording tool mentioned in step 5 below — How to record your interview, helps take much of the risk out of interviewer mishaps for both new and experienced podcasters. Using Libsyn Connect helps ensure that the conversation is being recorded. A lost recording of a famous person or interesting conversation is a real heart-breaker, the tales of which you’ll find many.
Learn more about Libsyn’s creation and audio recording tools.
Create a Podcast Interview Guest Lead List
Regardless of where you are in the interview booking process, tracking your outreach is critical for you and the special guests you are interviewing. You can reach out to various guests simultaneously as you begin the “getting” process.
Podcasters make great podcast interview guests — find them here
The following are a few sites that match podcast hosts and guests for interviews.
Podchaser — Provides an entire creator directory and popular podcasts
Podmatch — Automatically matches ideal podcast hosts & guests for interviews
Matchmaker.fm — Connects podcasters and guests.
Be wary of services that charge fees for you to list your show or make extraordinary claims about landing podcast celebrity guests like the host of Fresh Air or Guy Raz.
Step 2: Follow an Interview Booking Process
Should you send an email? A DM? How long do you wait for a follow-up? We’ve got you! This process is easy and free, and you can watch it in this video on How to Find & Get ANY Podcast Guest from the Libsyn team or follow along below.
Week 1 - First Email
Week 2 - Follow-up
Give the first email a week before your follow-up. Life for musicians, writers, and celebrities like Sean Hayes is busy. We’re all busy with our own life. When you follow up, keep it to a few words, with no in-depth interrogation, just a simple inquiry if they received your email.
Week 3 - Book & Start on Next Guest Conversations
If you’ve got a yes, step 4 will walk through how to help your guest, regardless of their interview experience level.
If you want one hour of content, block 3 hrs to record the interview content. If you are using Libsyn Connect, you can schedule and send your guest an invite right through Libsyn. They can join in a couple of clicks without purchasing a Libsyn account.
Each of your guests will want to go into the interviews differently. Some may want a list of questions. Others will want free-flowing conversations. Some may ask for approval of the episode, and others may not. Be flexible.
Scheduling a pre-interview is a great way to get to know your co hosts and test equipment.
Hint: Provide a document to your guests detailing your intended workflow, recording timeline, preferred recording tools, approval process, and how content may be repurposed for social.You should have this ready before you contact them.
If they didn’t respond, follow up on other conversations and pursue other guests. Be willing to explore other opportunities. Some interview guests will take much longer to book, others less. It’s hard work that can feel like a full time job.
A great interview podcast takes time. The best interview podcasts can take years.
Step 3: Prepare Interesting Podcast Interview Questions
Think about some of the most well-known award winning interview podcasts.
Comedian Marc Maron and WTF with Marc Maron, Joe Rogan with the Joe Rogan Experience, or Terry Gross on Fresh Air. Is there a common thread between these popular podcasts?
Remember your research. Don’t ask your guest the same questions they have already answered multiple times. What part of your guests story will your next question reveal? What one thing do you hope they share with your audience? Great questions and casual conversation will help you find that crazy but true fact about your great guests.
Sample Podcast Interview Questions For Guests
Check these lists out and note what interview questions really appeal to you. Which will spark unforgettable conversations? You may find one you want to focus on in your next episode.
Ultimate List of Best Interview Questions to Ask
90 Podcast Interview Questions to Hook Your Listeners
The Best Podcast Questions to Get Your Guest Talking
Bonus: Audience-sourced Questions
If you have enough lead time, tell your audience who your next guest is and ask them to submit questions for your interview.
There is nothing like integrating your audience into your podcast and making them a part of the interview.
Tell them they’ll have to listen to the episode to see if their question gets used in the interview! Marketing and interview questions all at once.
Sharing a simple Google Form link for question submissions in your show notes is easy. Want to make it a little extra? Have them send you an actual audio recording of the question and integrate it into the show!
Step 4: Get Ready For a Great Podcast Interview
Interview Podcast Notes
- If you have notes for the interview/conversation, keep them on a device. Avoid paper notes that rustle.
- Turn off alerts or sounds on your computer, watch, Alexa, and smartphone (airplane mode if you needed).
- Keep your cell phone away from your computer; it might interfere with transmission.
- Are all cords connected/plugged in?
- Is your computer sluggish? Do you need to reboot or update?
- Is EVERYTHING fully charged with enough memory or space for your recording?
- Close all programs except the program that you are using to record.
- Use a wired connection for mics, headphones, etc., to avoid Wi-Fi cut-outs or lapses.
- If wireless is all you have available, it’s not the end of the world.
- If you have an external microphone, use it!
- If you have a mic connected, make sure it is selected rather than the built-in mic.
- Make sure that your bandwidth is at least 1.5Mbps up / 1.5Mbps down.
- You can do a bandwidth test for speed here.
- Do your best to refrain from moving around. Keep gestures to a minimum and channel your energy into your voice!
- Do you need water? Chapstick?
- Make sure everyone (your co-host and guest/s) have reviewed this list.
- Ask your co-host to record locally as a backup.
Step 5: Remote Recording Your Podcast Interview
The most popular go-to video and sometimes audio recording service is Zoom. However, the quality of the output is not always ideal. Our video, The Best Zoom Settings for Podcast Recording, shows you how to optimize settings within Zoom, but for even better audio-only recording, we’ve got Libsyn Connect.
Connect is super simple to use, it allows you to invite guests, and all they have to do is click a button to get in. No account is necessary for your guest. Does your podcast have three hosts and 10 guests? No Problem. Libsyn Connect will provide separate recording tracks for up to 20 people.
If you’d like to try Connect for interviews, migrate your current podcast to Libsyn or start a new podcast at the $20/month level.
Done recording? Check out these post-interview tips.Libsyn Post-interview Checklist
You don’t need a whole team of writers for fascinating conversations and interesting interviews. You can develop your unique interview style over time. Listen to your guest and consider your audience. Leaving listeners wanting more is key.