Written by StreamYard
66 Great Podcast Interview Questions To Ask Your Guests
If you host a podcast, you probably know that coming up with the right questions when you’re interviewing someone is no easy task. Ideally, you will want conversations to flow as naturally as possible. But some structure definitely helps. And what better way to direct your interactions than having a list of awesome and unique questions you can ask your guests?
This is why we have created this list, which collects the best questions to ask any podcast guest - no matter the topic you’re discussing or whether you know each other or not. But let’s start by briefly covering why having a list of questions ahead of time can do wonders for your podcast episodes.
Should You Prepare Your Questions In Advance?
The first question (see what we did there?) we should ask is whether it’s a good idea to write your podcast questions in advance. After all, not everyone chooses to follow this path.
We’ll cut to the chase. Here is why preparing your podcast interview questions in advance is generally a good practice. Don’t worry, though. If you keep reading, we will also show you the other side of the coin (or the cases in which you might want to go spontaneous).
Benefit #1: Structure, Flow, and Relevance
Planning your questions in advance can help you create a more structured and logical flow for your podcast interview. For example, it can ensure that the conversation progresses smoothly and covers the key topics you want to address. This makes sense, as one of the biggest challenges of creating an engaging episode is to be able to tell a good story. Preparing your questions in advance also allows you to focus on the most relevant and meaningful topics that align with the theme or purpose of your podcast.
Benefit #2: Research Opportunities
Preparing interview questions can also give you an opportunity to go deeper into your guest research. What do we mean by this? Simple. The more you know about who you’re going to be talking to, the better you can tailor your questions to your interviewee's background, expertise, and experiences. Which, let’s be honest, shows you have a deeper understanding of their work. And that can’t hurt your interview-style podcast, can it?
Benefit #3: Time Management
If there’s one thing that is difficult to predict when you start talking to someone, is how long the conversation will be. If you talk too much, the answer is easier; edit. But what happens if you run out of things to say, or you go too deep into one topic and forget another important one? Planning your questions can help you manage your interview time effectively because you can allocate time for each segment. (and prevent your interviews from becoming rushed or unfocused).
Benefit #4: More Engaging Conversations
Well-thought-out questions can make the difference between a common chat and an engaging and thought-provoking conversation. When you plan ahead, you can encourage your guest to share insights, stories, and expertise you think will work with your podcast and result in a particularly good interview. It actually also helps if you have a set of prepared questions as a backup plan. This way, if the conversation hits a lull or you get any unexpected technical issues, you can smoothly transition to the next question without feeling flustered.
Benefit #5: Confidence and Professionalism
Knowing that you have a set of well-crafted questions and follow-up questions will give you confidence as the interviewer and podcast host. This confidence will surely be noticed in your delivery, tone, and overall performance. Also, planning your questions demonstrates professionalism and dedication to your show. It shows your guests that you've invested time and effort preparing for the interview!
Are There Advantages to Improvising Your Interviews?
As promised, we will also cover some of the benefits of actually NOT using interview questions. We have to say, though. We are biased. But here they are!
- Spontaneity and authenticity: Improvisation can lead to more spontaneous and authentic conversations. When you don’t have the constraints of a predetermined script, you and your guest may feel more relaxed. So, the responses might feel more genuine and unrehearsed responses.
- Responsive to the moment: We think this is perhaps the most important lesson when it comes to improvised vs scripted interviews. Improvising allows you to be more responsive to the moment. For example, you can adapt your questions based on the direction the conversation takes, diving deeper into interesting topics that arise during the interview.
- Building rapport: A more fluid and improvisational approach can contribute to building rapport with your guest. In other words, it may create a more conversational atmosphere.
- Flexibility in follow-up questions: Without a rigid script, you can be more flexible with follow-up questions. Say, for instance, your guest shares a compelling story or insight. Then, you can explore it further without feeling constrained by a predetermined list of questions.
- Catering to your guest’s comfort level: Some guests prefer a conversational and spontaneous approach rather than a structured interview. Adapting to the guest's preferred style can result in a more relaxed and enjoyable experience for both parties.
- Creative exploration: An improvisational approach can lead to creative exploration of topics. You might discover new angles or insights by allowing the conversation to evolve naturally.
The Ideal Approach: Flexibility!
Having some questions prepared ahead of time doesn’t mean everything has to be scripted. So, you don’t need to commit to one approach and completely ignore the other. You can take the best of both worlds!
What do we mean, specifically? Here’s a piece of advice: You can use the list below as a reference guide and pepper some of these throughout your interviews. For example, as an intro or when things feel like they are slowing down.
Best Podcast Interview Questions by Type
The purpose of personal questions is to help your podcast audience connect with your guests on a deeper level. These questions aim to uncover the guest's unique experiences, perspectives, and values.
Here are some ideas. Of course, you can adjust the questions based on the nature of your podcast and your guest's background to create a more personalized and engaging interview.
- How did your early life experiences shape your aspirations and career choices?
- Can you recall a specific moment or event that set you on the path to where you are today?
- Were there any influential people or mentors who guided you during the early stages of your journey?
- Could you share a particular moment that you consider a turning point in your life? (Could be a childhood memory)
- Were there challenges or setbacks that, in hindsight, played a crucial role in your personal development?
Passions and Hobbies
- What activities or hobbies bring you the most joy and fulfillment outside of your professional life?
- How do you balance your work life with your personal interests and passions?
Challenges and Triumphs
- What was one of the most challenging situations you've faced, and how did you navigate through it?
- Can you share a moment of triumph or success that stands out as a significant accomplishment?
- How have challenges shaped your resilience and determination in pursuing your goals in your personal life?
Role Models and Influences
- Who are the individuals you look up to as role models, and how have they influenced your values or mindset?
- Have you ever had the opportunity to meet or connect with someone you admire, and what was that experience like?
- Are there specific daily habits or routines that you believe contribute to your productivity and well-being?
- How do you structure your day to maintain a healthy work-life balance? Do you have a morning routine you can share?
- What are some items on your bucket list that you're most excited about accomplishing?
- Can you share a specific goal or dream that holds special significance to you?
- How do you prioritize and plan to achieve the items on your bucket list?
Favorite Books, Movies, or Music
- Are there specific books that have had a profound impact on your perspective or outlook on life?
- Can you share a movie or piece of music that holds sentimental value or has inspired you?
- How do your cultural preferences influence your creativity or decision-making in your professional life?
- Is there a particular life lesson you learned that you would like to pass on to others?
- Can you reflect on a mistake, challenge, or biggest failure that taught you something valuable about yourself?
- Can you share a specific way in which you aim to positively impact the lives of others?
- How do you align your daily actions with the long-term legacy you hope to leave behind?
Industry or expertise questions are a type of question that centers around the specific topic you will be discussing. This can be the topic of, for example, your business podcast or the interviewee’s career.
These industry and expertise questions aim to delve into the guest's knowledge, experiences, and insights within a specific field, providing valuable information for your podcast audience. Let’s see some examples.
- Can you highlight any emerging technologies or innovations that are shaping the landscape with other entrepreneurs?
- How do you stay informed about industry trends, and what resources or publications do you find most valuable?
Challenges and Opportunities
- What are the main challenges facing your industry, and how do businesses navigate them?
- Can you identify opportunities for growth or disruption within your industry?
- How has your industry evolved over the years, and what key factors have driven these changes?
- Can you share examples of successful adaptation strategies employed by businesses in your industry?
- Can you share your personal experiences with skill development and continuous learning?
- Are there specific training programs or courses you recommend for those entering your industry?
- How did you navigate your career path to reach your current position, and what lessons have you learned along the way?
- What advice do you have for individuals seeking career growth within your industry?
- Can you share a pivotal moment or decision that significantly influenced your professional trajectory?
Networking and Relationships
- How important is networking in your industry, and what strategies do you use to build and maintain professional relationships?
- Can you share a story about how a professional connection positively impacted your career?
- What role do mentorship and collaboration play in your professional development?
- How has technology influenced your industry, and what role does it play in your day-to-day work?
- What emerging technologies do you believe will be game-changers in the coming years?
- Are there specific innovative practices or approaches that set leading companies apart in your industry?
- Can you share examples of companies that have successfully embraced innovation to stay ahead of the competition?
- How do you foster a culture of innovation within your own work or organization?
- Where do you see your industry heading in the next five to ten years, and what challenges or opportunities do you foresee?
- How might external factors, such as global events or economic shifts, impact the future of your industry?
- Can you share your in-depth predictions on how consumer behavior might evolve and influence your industry?
Your opening can become one of the most memorable moments of the interview. So, here are some ice-breaker questions you can ask when you’re welcoming someone onboard:
- (Introduction and background) Can you start by introducing yourself and providing a bit of background on your journey and expertise in [guest's field and its relevance with podcast topic]?
- (Engagement and connection) What inspired you to [guest's area of expertise or notable achievement]? Can you share a bit about what motivates you in your work?
- (Current projects) Could you give our listeners an update on what you're currently working on or any exciting projects in the pipeline?
- (Industry trends) Given your extensive experience in [industry], what are some of the current trends or developments that you find particularly interesting or noteworthy?
- (Personal touch or signature question) Before we dive into the details, let's get to know you a bit better. Can you share a fun or unique fact about yourself that our listeners might not be aware of?
Closing questions serve as a strategic and meaningful way to wrap up a podcast interview. So, here are some good ones you should keep in your show notes!
- (Key takeaways) As we wrap up our conversation, what are the key takeaways or insights you'd like our listeners to remember from our discussion today?
- (Advice for the audience) Before we say goodbye, do you have any advice or words of wisdom you'd like to share with our audience, especially those aspiring to [relevant industry or field]?
- (Future outlook) Looking ahead, what excites you most about the future of [guest's industry or field], and what opportunities do you see on the horizon?
- (Audience engagement) For our listeners who want to learn more about your work or connect with you, where can they find you online or stay updated on your latest endeavors?
- (Gratitude and appreciation) I want to express my sincere gratitude for joining us today. Is there anything you'd like to add or any final thoughts you'd like to share with our audience before we conclude?
Funny or Whimsical Questions
Adding a touch of humor or whimsy to your podcast interviews can make them more enjoyable for both your guest and your audience. Here are our favorite ten funny or whimsical semi-open-ended questions you can use as a template that will surely interest your podcast listeners!
- If you could host a dinner party with three fictional characters, who would they be, and what would you serve for the main course?
- If you could have any superpower for a day, but it could only be mildly inconvenient, what would it be and how would you use it?
- If you could have any animal as a sidekick for a day, which animal would you choose and why?
- You accidentally invent a time machine, but it only takes you to random moments in the past. What's the most awkward historical situation you'd likely find yourself in?
- If you could un-invent one thing in the world just to see what chaos would ensue, what would it be?
- You're at a karaoke bar, and a celebrity walks in. Who is it, and what song would you choose for an impromptu duet?
- Congratulations, you've been chosen as Earth's official ambassador to greet an alien species. How do you welcome them, and what's your intergalactic icebreaker?
- If you had to pick the most absurd and outlandish job in the world, what would it be, and how would you excel at it?
- If you had to be haunted by the ghost of any historical figure, who would it be, and what kind of pranks would they pull on you?
- If your life were a movie, what would be the title, and which actor would play you? Bonus points if it's an actor who has never played your type of character before.
What NOT To Ask Your Guests
We’ve covered what you can ask. But what about what you cannot or should not? While interviewing guests for your podcast, it's important to be mindful of questions that could be inappropriate, uncomfortable, or disrespectful. For example, you should NOT ask about:
- Personal finances: Avoid asking detailed questions about a guest's personal financial situation, income, or investments unless the discussion is directly related to their expertise.
- Age, marital status, or family planning: Refrain from asking about a person's age, marital status, or family planning, as these topics can be considered sensitive and private.
- Sensitive personal experiences: Avoid probing into traumatic or highly sensitive personal experiences unless the guest willingly shares such information.
- Legal matters: Refrain from asking guests about legal matters, ongoing investigations, or any information that could potentially lead to legal issues.
- Offensive or insensitive topics: Stay away from offensive or insensitive topics, jokes, or comments that could be hurtful to the guest or potentially alienate your audience.
Having some prepared interview questions (personal, industry-specific, or others) can definitely help you structure your podcast interviews. These questions help you keep things running smoothly and can come to the rescue if you feel an awkward silence approaching!
Now, mastering your interviews is one step towards becoming a podcast success. You also need to make sure people actually hear your episodes - and that they sound great!
We can help. StreamYard is a one-stop shop for all your podcasting needs. Our platform runs entirely from your browser and allows you to live stream and record content. That’s not all, though! You can also distribute your episodes to YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms all directly from StreamYard.
Try StreamYard today. It’s free!