Conduct a World-Class Radio Interview

General Tips

  • Setting the context for the one on one interview is the first step in having a conversation that yields an informative or entertaining interview.
  • Do your homework to assure you are fully aware of the interviewee’s expertise, background, past interview results, and agenda.
  • Discuss with the guest what you will be speaking about. Give them some sample questions that you will be asking. Never throw out questions that they are not expecting unless you are clear the questions are fair game.
  • Make your guest look great. They will want to come back if you present them in a light that makes them look good.
  • Make your guest feel welcome. Pretend that you are inviting them into your “home” and afford them the best hospitality you can. You may want to provide a small token of appreciation, like a copy of your book, coffee mug or other small trinket. Be sure to offer water, sodas, and possibly light snacks.
  • Introduce your guest while being recorded. Say their name, their title, and allow them to respond so the listener can identify the name with the voice. Do this several times during the interview, especially on intros and commercial breaks. Repeat their name and title. Ask them to give you lists of their books or websites so you can say them on air for listeners to refer to.

80 – 20 Rule

  • Listen at least 80 percent of the time. Often interviewers think the listener wants to hear them, when in fact it is the guest who is interesting and topical. You have two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you speak. Something to remember if you talk too much.
  • Guests who don’t get to talk as much as they want will not come back for more.

Open Ended Questions

  • There are closed and open ended questions. Close ended, mean just that, you close the answer as quickly as possible. They are YES or NO questions. Open ended questions get the guest talking and expressing information that your listeners want to hear.
  • Questions that start with Who, What, Where, Why, and How are open ended and will give your guest plenty of room to speak and share their knowledge or entertain.

Relaxing Your Guest

  • Often your guest will be nervous and feel self conscious about speaking. To help them relax you can take your 20 percent of your speaking time and talk.
  • Since my shows are recorded, I will always let the guest and I chat for a while before we start to record. This way they get used to hearing their own voice and mine through the headsets. The more they “practice” at speaking with you in your setting, the better they will feel.
  • You can start with throw away questions at first. Ask them where they are from or what they did today before questions of substance. This will help them work through their jitters and you yours.
  • If you make them welcome and comfortable, they will feel at ease.

Sample Interview Questions

  • Take the time to prepare for your interview by writing down 10 to 20 relevant questions.
  • Some sample questions that work in any interview
    • Tell our listeners what you have been up to?
    • Why is that important?
    • How can our listeners learn more about…?
    • What got you started in this field?
    • What have been some of the challenges you face?
    • What was the greatest success you experienced?
    • How are you helping people…?
    • When will you be…?
    • Who inspired you to do…?
    • Where can our listeners get more information about…?

Ending Early vs. Dragging On

  • Keep the interview packed and energized. If you feel the energy going down and don’ t feel a way to bring it back up, you have gone on too long. End the interview on a high note, leaving the listener wanting more.

Lorne Epstein, author of You’re Hired! Interview Skills to Get the Job, the ultimate guide for job interview preparation, and designer of Inside Job, a professional networking platform for Facebook.

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