“Should I send the guest all the questions prior to our podcast interview?”
After working on dozens of shows, I’ve received this question a lot. And I have a two-fold answer.
Yes AND No.
Helpful, I know.
Let’s break it down to when the answer is YES and where the answer is NO.
I know you want AUTHENTICITY in your conversation. So that it flows naturally and organically, right?
Many people believe if they send questions ahead of time, that eliminates the surprise and authentic element.
Doing something authentically doesn’t mean you don’t do it strategically.
While I don’t suggest providing each question to the interviewee prior to the interview, I do suggest sending over the PURPOSE of the episode as it relates to the interviewee.
Let’s say you are going to interview the CEO of a big Fashion Retailer. And you want the story to be about how the person started the business, their hobbies, their family, their lifestyle.
You do not want this to be an educational podcast on how to start a fashion line.
That is a big difference.
The CEO is probably interviewed a LOT on how they created this empire. “Give us 3 steps on how to replicate your success, Ms. CEO.”
If they don’t realize you want a personal story, they will go into educational mode because that is what they are expecting.
Now that you have the point of the episode, I would suggest providing the ‘crux’ question. What’s the internal tension point in the story that the CEO had to overcome to get to be, well, the CEO?
I would provide THAT question ahead of time. This gives the interviewee the ability to have an impactful answer. This is where you want to go for the big, heavy hitter on the emotional strings.
“What did you do the moment after you were fired from your first job?”
“How did the conversation go when you told your spouse you were starting a business?”
And make this one specific. Even break it up into two parts if need be. Meaning, the interviewee tells the first part of the story, and you have a follow-up question in the middle of their answer to ask in effort to break up their monologue.
Providing this amount of direction actually helps the interviewee open up even more – not less – because they feel safe and directed in the interview.
So, the first two things I suggest to provide to an interviewee:
Any questions that you ask on every episode.
“What’s your favorite book?”
“What’s your best piece of advice?”
“What’s next for you?”
These are big identifier questions. They speak a lot about the interviewee.
People will either freeze and not know what to say – or they will give a really broad answer as to not look dumb.
I would NOT give the exact questions ahead of time. This can result in overly prepared and canned answers. And then – indeed you will kill all elements of surprise.
You want to provide enough direction ahead of time that the interviewee is comfortable diving into the conversation – but not so much that every answer sounds like a rehearsed sales pitch for a job opening.
YES – Provide these items ahead of time:
NO- Do NOT Provide this ahead of time
Prepare for the interview by learning the history of the interviewee.
Help the interviewee feel as comfortable as possible.
Watch the authentic and surprising answers arise!
Want more on interviewing? Check out our Interview Bootcamp all about upleveling your conversations.
I’m a wiz with words and sizzle with story, so let’s take the dreams from your heart and place them into the lives of those who need it most.
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