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Your Podcast Pre-Interview Checklist


If you’re reading this, then you’ve already taken your first steps in launching a podcast.

Hopefully, you’ve already settled on the theme of your show and checked some boxes on the production side.

Now comes the fun (scary?) part of hosting a podcast: finding guests for your show.

But once you slate a guest for an episode, you must prep them for your topic: the pre-interview.

A pre-interview is a short discussion (generally 15 minutes or less) before you go live with your episode. A solid pre-interview with your guest will accomplish the following:

  • Help your guest feel relaxed and set the tone

  • Go over talking points for the episode

  • Set expectations and provide direction for the interview

Everyone, Relax!

You and many of your guests may likely be strangers when you first speak to each other.

That’s okay! If you’ve brought that person in to discuss something relevant to your show, you probably have more in common than you think.

When you start the pre-interview, don’t roll right into your topic.

Instead, ask your guest how things have been going for them, personally or professionally. Then, grab onto their response and dig a little deeper if appropriate.

Give just enough back-and-forth conversation so you know that they’re comfortable. You don’t want to spend too much time getting to know each other - after all, everyone’s time is valuable.

And remember, if you’re nervous your first few times bringing in a guest, keep in mind that this will likely be their first time being interviewed! So, you must ensure they are relaxed before you hit record.

Talking Points

Now that you’ve gotten comfortable with each other, you and your guest can move on to the general outline of the show.

You should have narrowed down your topic in your first point of contact with your guest (email, text, phone call, etc.). Now you can flesh out the subject matter from the guest’s perspective.

First, clarify to your guest that anything discussed during the pre-interview will not necessarily be a point of discussion in the interview.

If something comes up in this casual conversation that your guest is uncomfortable speaking about, make it clear that you will avoid it during the recorded interview.

After establishing trust, ask your guest to narrow the topic to a few talking points.

You don’t need them to break down the ‘why’ behind each idea; you want to save all that juicy information for the live interview!

After they’ve laid out the talking points (try to keep them to fiver or fewer), repeat them back to your guest. Ensure that you’re both on the same page.

Now, you’re ready to move on to the final step!

Providing Direction

Almost there!

So, you’ve established an outline for your interview. Now, it’s time to figure out some ground rules for you and your guest - especially if you’ve just met.

For instance, what if your guest’s name was ‘Madeline Stroede?’ How would you pronounce her name?

Don’t hesitate to ask her in the pre-interview! Now is the time to clear up any confusion and avoid awkward fumbles during the interview.

Ask your guest how you should introduce them in both name and title.

Also, clarify that the introduction sequence will be short and sweet. You can let your guest expound on their background later in the interview.

If you’d like to give your listeners a chance to connect with your guest, ask them what contact information they’re comfortable sharing. Tell them you’ll be offering an opportunity to share that info at some point in the interview.


Once you’ve established expectations, you and your guest should be ready to roll into your interview!

Ask them once more if they’re ready to go before giving the countdown, and then let it fly.

Remember, your pre-interview shouldn’t be a formal affair. Your goal is to make your guest feel welcome and at ease. If you sense they feel otherwise, give them time to breathe!

Once you’ve built trust and confidence in each other, that will carry over into your recording.

Now get out there and find your guests!

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