Conducting Professional Interviews for Podcasts and Print

Conducting great interviews is an artform. Regardless of who is being interviewed, if your interview is well crafted, and your questions thought provoking and well prepared, then you will be able to coax interesting answers out of the interviewee. The better prepared you are the more the subject will enjoy the interview, and when the interviewee is comfortable and enjoying themselves the more interesting the interview will turn out.

Research and Preparation

The more you know about your subject the easier it will be to write a great interview. Once you’ve picked the subject of your interview, read their books, read previous interviews with them, and watch videos of their readings, performances, and anything you can get your hands on. The more you know about the interviewee the easier it will be to come up with good questions catered specifically to them. Avoid asking questions that they have answered in previous interviews, and do what you can to get a feel for their personality to help draw great answers out of the subject. 

When writing your interview, avoid questions that will prompt yes/no answers, as these will make for a dull interview that provides the reader/listener with little worthwhile information. It is always worth writing two-part questions that give the interviewee a chance to elaborate and the necessary space to respond in interesting ways. Asking about motivations will also generally coax out more interesting answers and give the audience insights into the behind-the-scenes aspects of the craft and the subject’s thought processes in creating their work.

Once you have written the interview, give the subject an opportunity to see the questions beforehand. This will give them time to think about the questions and come up with great answers without being caught off guard. It is also always worthwhile to give them the opportunity to axe questions that they find irrelevant or inappropriate or to add questions of their own. There’s nothing wrong with writing a challenging interview, but always give them the chance to make any alterations that they may feel are necessary. If the interview is going to appear in print, or there are time limits to your podcast, it is also worth providing the interviewee with a maximum and minimum word count. This last step will keep you from having to do any major editing and ensure that the interview fits the requirements of the venue publishing the interview. 

The Interview Format

It should be decided ahead of time how the interview will be recorded: video call, phone, over email, or in person. If the interview is for a podcast then in person is the best option for a quality recording, however this isn’t always possible. Video calling is the second best option and is easy to use, but you may also want to conduct the interview over the telephone. There are many free phone recording apps, however most of them have poor recording quality and video calls are preferable. If you use video conferencing programs or a phone recording app keep in mind that the sample rate will generally be 32k or less and will need to be changed to 44.1k if you plan on creating .wav files of the audio. If the interview is for print, conducting the interview via email is also an option and will save you the time of transcribing the interview but can also lead to less personable answers.

Conducting the Interview

When it comes to conducting the interview itself, have your questions printed and ready, and let the subject know that you may be asking some impromptu questions that were not previously scripted. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions in response to their answers and give the interview a natural flow. Try to avoid interrupting the subject when they are speaking and refrain from making the interview about you by interjecting personal anecdotes and long-winded backstory. Remember that the interview is about the subject and their work and crowding up the interview with your personal opinions is not what the readers will be looking for. If the subject has not answered a question to your liking you can always reframe a question and ask it again, and oftentimes this will get the subject to elaborate and clarify their answers.


Sometimes it will be necessary to do some editing to make the interview fit within the word count guidelines of the publishing venue. If you need to make edits or cuts from the subject’s answers, always make sure to let the subject know, and when possible give them the chance to review the edits. This last step will help to avoid the subject being misconstrued. 

Jean-Paul L. Garnier

Jean-Paul L. Garnier lives and writes in Joshua Tree, CA where he is the owner of Space Cowboy Books, a science fiction bookstore, independent publisher, and producer of Simultaneous Times podcast. In 2020 his first novella Garbage In, Gospel Out was released by Space Cowboy Books and in 2018 Traveling Shoes Press released Echo of Creation, a collection of his science fiction short stories. He has also released several collections of poetry: In Iudicio (Cholla Needles Press 2017), Future Anthropology (currently being translated into Portuguese), and Odes to Scientists (audiobook - Space Cowboy Books 2019). He is a two time Elgin Nominee and also appeared in the 2020 Dwarf Stars anthology. His new collection of SF poetry, Betelgeuse Dimming has just been released and is available as a free download audiobook / ebook at He is also a regular contributor for Canada’s Warp Speed Odyssey blog. His short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in many anthologies and webzines.