NEW! Listen to article

Engaging interviews lie at the heart of captivating podcasts, radio shows, and similar types of content. Interviews can captivate audiences, spark thought-provoking discussions, and offer unique insights into the minds of fascinating people.

A great podcast or radio interview's fundamental pillar is authenticity, which involves actively listening, being engaged, and staying curious. Moreover, you need to conduct thorough research and have a loose outline of the interview to ensure there are no awkward breaks and to steer the conversation back on track if it gets derailed.

The art of interviewing extends beyond conducting a rigid Q&A session. It's about creating an environment that encourages guests to open up and share their expertise, experiences, and opinions.

1. Thoroughly research your guests

Before conducting interviews, investing time in thorough research on your guests is crucial, as that research will form the foundation of a successful and engaging conversations. Gathering information about your guests' background, expertise, and accomplishments allows you to craft questions that resonate with their unique experiences and perspectives.

Begin by exploring your guests' professional background, education, career trajectory, and notable achievements. Such information provides context and enables you to ask informed questions that delve deeper into their expertise. You should also research their online presence, such as their websites, social media profiles, and previous interviews. By familiarizing yourself with their body of work and online presence, you can identify key themes or areas of interest that align with their expertise.

Use your research to ask relevant and engaging questions and find connections between your guests' work and current events or trending topics. Incorporate personal anecdotes or experiences from their past to demonstrate that you have done your homework and establish a personal connection.

Aim for a balance between asking about well-known aspects of their work and uncovering lesser-known insights, ensuring that both guest and audience discover new aspects of their expertise.

2. Prepare a structured outline

Formulate an outline during your research to help guide the interview by keeping your purpose for the interview in mind. Consider whether your guests are promoting something, they recently finished a project, or they have won an award.

Craft specific questions for each topic that are relevant to your purpose, and avoid generic or closed-ended questions. Instead, opt for open-ended ones that encourage your guests to share experiences, opinions, and expertise. Such questions will foster a deeper and more engaging conversation.

Also, consider the overall length of your interview, and allocate time for each topic accordingly to ensure that you cover all the critical points within the given timeframe. However, be flexible and willing to adapt your outline if unexpected avenues or topics arise during the interview, and always leave room for follow-up questions.

Actively listen to your guests' responses and be prepared to ask insightful questions based on their answers. Flexibility allows for deeper insights and unexpected discoveries.

3. Start your interview with a warm introduction

The beginning of an interview is a critical moment that sets the tone for the entire conversation. A warm and engaging introduction establishes a positive atmosphere and helps the audience connect with your guest on a personal level.

Begin by introducing your guest and providing a brief overview: background, accomplishments, and expertise. Highlight notable achievements and unique career aspects to capture the audience's attention and establish credibility.

Find common ground between yourself, your guest, and your audience. Identify shared interests, experiences, and values to create an immediate bond and make the conversation relatable and personable.

Pose an engaging opening question that piques guests' interest and encourages them to share their thoughts. The question should be thought-provoking, relevant to their expertise, and capable of sparking an interesting discussion right from the start.

4. Maintain a conversational tone

The art of interviewing goes beyond preparation; it also lies in maintaining a conversation—which is why building rapport from the beginning is vital to encouraging your guest to open up. There are no bad guests to interview; there are only bad interviewers.

The best way to maintain a conversational tone is to physically establish a relaxing atmosphere, ensure you and your guest are comfortable, and provide refreshments if it's an in-person interview. Treat your guest as you would a friend, and use friendly and inclusive language. Don't be too formal or too preoccupied with the outline you crafted.

Show genuine interest in your guest's responses by actively listening, nodding in response, providing verbal cues, and maintaining eye contact if the interview is in person or over video. Active listening conveys that you value their input and creates a more engaging and interactive conversation.

* * *

Mastering the art of interviewing requires continuous practice and refinement. As you hone your skills, be open to feedback, reflect on your performance, and seek inspiration from accomplished interviewers.

Embrace the uniqueness of each conversation, and be willing to explore unexpected directions that may arise.

With dedication and practice, you can cultivate a distinct interviewing style that will leave a lasting impact on your listeners.

More Resources on How to Conduct Good Interviews

How to Create Better Content by Conducting Better Interviews: Jay Acunzo of '3 Clips' on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Own Your Interview: Nine Questions Every Content-Writing Candidate Needs to Ask

13 Interview Questions Asked by Successful Business Leaders [Infographic]

Enter your email address to continue reading

The Art of Interviewing: Four Tips for Conducting Engaging Podcast and Radio Interviews

Don't's free!

Already a member? Sign in now.

Sign in with your preferred account, below.

Did you like this article?
Know someone who would enjoy it too? Share with your friends, free of charge, no sign up required! Simply share this link, and they will get instant access…
  • Copy Link

  • Email

  • Twitter

  • Facebook

  • Pinterest

  • Linkedin

  • AI


image of Dave Purdy

Dave Purdy is a publicist at Otter PR. He specializes in getting great radio and podcast interviews for his clients, who have been featured on ABC Radio, Westwood One, Bloomberg Radio, and many others.

LinkedIn: Dave Purdy