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Jun 2
How To Conduct a Podcast Interview
Decide on a suitable recording method:

There's no sense in conducting a phone interview if you have no way of recording it. The most obvious ways to record phone calls is with the VoIP solutions on the market such as Skype, Gizmo, and GabCast, but there are hardware widgets that you can buy at electronic stores that will record from normal telephone lines.

Find an appropriate person: Once you've identified the topic or service that you think would be enhanced by an interview, source out suitable person to interview.

  • The easiest way is to go to the manufacturer's or service's website and look for a "contact" tab.
  • Always ensure that your prospective interviewee is aware of the topic you'd like to talk to them about. Talking to the wrong person about a product or service is a big embarassment.

Agree on a time and date:

This may seem obvious but don't forget that podcasting is a global proposition. I've interviewed people as far away as Norway. Ensure when you are talking about a date and time that you are both talking about the same time zone!

Agree on who will call whom: It's generally expected that the interviewer will call the interviewee, but some of your speakers may wish to conduct the interview from a place where they don't wish to provide a phone number for. See tip #3.

Do your homework: Do some Internet research and find out some things about your interviewee and the product or service that you want to talk about. You may not need this information during the interview but I've set up interviews with people for one topic and then during my research found out that they are well known in other fields as well.

Introduce and thank your interviewee on record: For your first interviews you will likely be tense and it's easy to forget the formals. Remember to introduce your interviewee by their preferred title and thank them for coming on the show. Introduce the topic that you've invited them on to talk about and then go into the questions.

Keep it simple: We're not all going to be Wolf Blitzers right off the bat. Stick to the 4 W's and the H: Who are you, What is the product or service, Why was it developed or produced, How does it work and Where can listeners get more information on it?

Close up: Thank your interviewee for his or her time and close off the recording.

  • Always tell your interviewee that you will be in touch with them once you've decided on a date that the show will air.

Aftermath: Edit your interview with an eye to make your interviewee sound as knowledgeable and personable as possible. No one wants to hear themselves on a show that makes them sound bad.

  • Always contact the interviewee within a day or so of the interview and thank them again for their time, provide a time that the show will air, and if possible a link to it so they can easily find it.

5 Comments/Trackbacks

Sorry, for the blatant link, Jon, but it is very relevant to your post... ;)

Back in January, after a particularly uncomfortable experience as a co-interviewee, I let off a little steam about how poorly so many podcasters interview: read it here

Hi Neil,

I love relevant links, don't sweat it :)

Your list is great - thanks for sharing it. I learned early in the game about some of your points and I should have elaborated on them myself. I used to hum and haw when an interviewee was speaking and as I would in real life, but you're right - that doesn't lend itself well to an audio interview.

As for listening and paying attentiong - another great one. There's an podcast out there that does nothing but interviews and I remarked in one of my first posts on Biz Podcasting that it doesn't even sound like the two people are in the same room. A list of questions with no reaction or discussion about the answers is a poor interview indeed.

Thanks for the tips. They're gold.

Jon, love your tips. I have a bit of a journalist background, so podcast interviews are easy for me to do. But your list really enforces how important it is to interview with confidence.

One of the things that's really tempting to say is "Um hmmm," while the person is talking. We do this when we're trying to let the person know that we're listening.

However, those "Um hmmms" in a podcast interview are really annoying, so really make sure that as a host, you avoid saying this. Otherwise, you're going to spend a huge amount of time editing your own verbal clutter out of the interview.

That's my tip :)

Thanks Leesa. I'm certainly no expert on interviewing technique, but I'm happy that this article seems to be well received.

These tips are gold, John! I found your link through Donna Pappacosta. Mind if I shamlessly swipe some of your tips for my talk on interviews at Podcast Expo? Some are so obvious, but some of us learned them the hard way!!

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