Asking good questions allows the guest to speak at length on a topic, and demonstrate their passion and expertise with clear and precise answers. This is what your audience wants to hear.
A poor question will lead your guest to provide answers that are short, vague or rambling. Your audience will find these answers boring and unhelpful, and cause them to tune out.
Here are some general principles to bear in mind when planning your interview questions:
Do your research on the guest
A few minutes of research on the guest and their field of expertise will ensure your questions are relevant and informed. Before writing any questions for the guest, read a couple of blog articles on the topic to be discussed, and check out the guest's social media profiles.
Avoid asking basic questions
It's good to ask your guest to introduce themselves for the sake of your audience. However, it's also important to appear like you have already established a relationship with your guest to avoid creating a feeling of disconnection.
Let your curiosity lead
One of the best ways to ask interesting questions is to actually be interested in the answer. What do you want to know about this field? What fascinates you? What areas don't you understand? Let your own feelings serve as an unlimited source of questions.
Ask open questions
Open questions lead your guest to speak at length, and explain their thinking. These questions start with: Who, What, Why, When, Where, How, or How much.
Examples of open questions include:
“How did you do that?”
“Where did you learn to do that?”
“How did it feel when you did this?”
Don't ask closed questions
In contrast, closed questions elicit a Yes/No response.
Examples of closed questions include:
"Do you like your work?"
"Is your child still at school?"
Don’t ask leading questions
Leading questions are ones that encourage your guest to say something in particular or take a position; they assume a particular response. Instead of asking the closed and leading question “Was that an exciting experience?”, ask the unbiased open question “What was that experience like?”
Ask one question at a time
Asking multiple questions at once has the potential to confuse your guest, or overwhelm them. However, it can be a very useful technique for having the guest provide more detail to their answers, and speak for longer. This is especially useful in an asynchronous interview, where the ability to ask follow-up questions is limited. It all depends on how you do it.
The wrong way: "Please tell us about your early childhood experiences, how this led to the job you're doing now, and why you're so passionate about it."
This is a huge question that's asking the guest to sum up their entire life and career, and would overwhelm the guest.
The right way: "What clients does your company serve, and what problem do you help them solve?"
This question combines two highly related questions that give the guest the opportunity to talk at length about their company and it's products.
Tell the guest's story
Asking “how” and “why” questions leads the guest to explain their thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Each question should reveal one part of the guest's, which builds context and creates a linear plot for your audience to follow.