Broadcasting, Interviews, Guide, Tips

Crafting Questions for Your Radio Guests

Preparing for radio guests is an essential step for ensuring that you are present and listening to your guest during the interview. If you are prepared and have questions ready, you can put your mind at ease and really engage in the conversation. You may be wondering what kind of questions you should be asking though. Crafting questions for your interview can be difficult since they should ultimately be unique to your guest. However, there are definitely some more universal questions and tips for the kinds of questions you should be asking. So, if you're struggling with what questions to ask your guest, keep on reading!

With radio interviews, you may have a lot of different guests. Artists, businesspeople, experts, personalities, friends, etc. are all possible guests, so of course, your questions will vary depending on your guest and their purpose for joining you on-air. When crafting questions, keep them and their purpose in mind to ensure you are asking appropriate questions. Many of the example questions below can be used for a variety of guests, you may just need to tweak them a bit and personalize them to make sense for you!

Example Questions:

Topical Questions:

Topical questions are questions directly relating to your guest and the topic at hand. These questions dig into the topic and begin as well as sustain the conversation.

  • "What's a common myth about [insert topic here] and can you debunk it?"
  • "What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter [insert profession here]?"
  • "Are there any resources or even advice that have really helped you on your journey?"
  • "What has been your biggest accomplishment in your career thus far?"

About the Interviewee Questions:

Aside from topical questions, it is also a good idea to ask more personal questions that allow the interviewee to talk a bit about themself. This is important for the promotional aspect of the interview as well as for engagement. These kinds of questions also tend to resonate with the audience more because they can potentially apply the things being said to their own lives and futures.

  • “What do you wish you had known when you started out?”
  • "What led you to this [insert project, profession, etc. here]?"
  • "What do you think your unique skill(s) is that has helped you become successful?"
  • "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
  • "How was your journey to what you do now?"

Promotional Questions:

Promotional questions set it up so that the interviewee can discuss what they are trying to promote, whether that be a project, product, business, brand, themself, etc.

  • "How did this project begin?"
  • "What is your favorite memory related to this project?"
  • "What makes this project different from [insert "past projects," "competition," etc]?"
  • "What's the inspiration behind this project?"
  • "What word or phrase would you use to describe this project?"
  • "How can listeners get in touch with or support you?"
  • "What is coming up for you in the near future?"

Seemingly Negative Questions:

Seemingly negative questions can prompt creative answers and a thoughtful discussion.

  • "Many people believe that [insert job here] is challenging to the point it becomes overwhelming and too much to handle. Why do you think people believe that?"
  • “What’s the most common reason for people failing or giving up?”

Out of the Box Questions:

Out of the box questions help keep the interview interesting, can make for some funny contributions that become shareable content, and help keep the interviewee on their toes. Unusual questions can be a refreshing part of the interview as well as helpful with keeping the interview a bit relaxed and fun amid the seriousness of other questions.

  • "What is your favorite word?"
  • "What are you not very good at?"
  • "If you could have one superpower, what would it be?"
  • "If you were a type of food, what type of food would you be?"
  • "If you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would you choose?"

Tips for Crafting Questions:

  • Keep it positive. While a question with a slightly negative spin can prompt creative answers, you don't want to ask more than 1-2 seemingly negative questions.
  • Ask open-ended questions using words like "who," "what," "when," "where," "why," and "how." Avoid using words like "Are you," "Did you," and "Would you."
  • Focus on asking relevant and engaging questions.
  • Tap into what your guest is passionate about.
  • Ask questions that you genuinely want the answers to.
  • Always include a variety of questions to keep it interesting.
  • Be mindful of sensitive or emotional topics.
  • Let your topic and research guide your questions.
  • Think about what your audience wants to learn.
  • Remain unbiased.
  • Don't forget about follow-up questions! You shouldn't put everything into 1 question. Break long questions into smaller ones and use them as follow-up questions.
  • Promotional questions are very important in most interviews, but it's best to really personalize those questions and get creative. Promotional questions can become repetitive for interviewees and audiences, so catch everyone off guard with a unique question.

There's no doubt that creating engaging questions can be a difficult task. Keep in mind that while crafting unique questions is the ultimate goal, there's nothing wrong with incorporating some more universal questions into your interview as well. And even better, you can add a unique element to a common question to make it your own engaging question. Before you know it, you'll have a whole list of awesome questions for your guest to provide entertaining content for your listeners!

Check out our 10 Tips for Becoming a Great Radio Interviewer and A Complete Guide to Having Guests on Your Radio Station articles for more information about radio interviews.

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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania