Effective Screening of Podcast Guests – How to Avoid Surprises

Effective screening of podcast guests will ensure a successful podcast show

While there are many benefits to speaking with new people on your podcast, you must understand how important effective screening of podcast guests is to the overall integrity of your podcast.

Not only can proper screening techniques help you keep your conversations relevant and of a high standard, but they can also help you avoid potentially problematic individuals and topics. To help you find the most suitable guests for your particular podcast. We will cover the best screening practices so that you can avoid unwelcome surprises.

Tips for Effective Screening of Podcast Guests

Each of the following tips is important, so you should get into the habit of performing these screening techniques for each podcast guest you consider. 

Even if a great podcast guest was recommended by someone you trust, it is still worth doing your due diligence, as this will give you the peace of mind required to go into the conversation with confidence and enthusiasm.

1. Create a List of Screening Questions for Potential Guests

Effective screening of podcast guests starts with creating a list of questions for potential guests

If you have a pre-written list of questions that you ask all of your potential podcast guests, you will be able to accurately and fairly assess each person’s suitability for your podcast.

At the end of the day, you want your podcast to be engaging for your listeners, so you want to find guests with insights and personalities that match the tone and theme of your podcast. By asking these screening interview questions, you can gauge the individual’s understanding of the topics you discuss on your podcast. It will also help you understand their unique perspective on those topics.

If, for example, it appears from your screening questions that a potential guest seems completely unfamiliar with the main topics you discuss on your podcast, they are probably not a good fit. 

You can ask these interview questions in a friendly way, either via phone or email. Ensure the guest knows you are not questioning their credibility, just their suitability for your podcast. This ability to evaluate potential guests can prevent you and your podcast guest from wasting your time.

2. Have a Conversation with Potential Guests Prior to Your Podcast

Be sure to talk with your guest before you interview them on your podcast

Think of this conversation as an informal screening interview. Not only can this give you an idea of how well they can hold an engaging conversation, but it will also help the two of you become familiar with each other, which can result in better rapport when it comes time to sit down together and record your podcast.

You can also use this conversation as an opportunity to explain your podcast’s format and the type of target audience you have. This will help you avoid misunderstandings when you are recording your podcast.

3. Ask About Their Availability Ahead of Time

No matter how excited you are to host a potential guest on your podcast, you must be clear on their availability well ahead of time. There is no point wasting your time taking things further than an email exchange if your schedules do not match up and there is no realistic time to sit down and record together.

This is vitally important if your podcast airs live, as you will have to find a day when you both have availability at the time you normally release your podcast. If you release a live recording while nobody is listening, it can be a waste of time.

If you live in a different geographic location than a potential guest, so you plan on podcasting together remotely, you may need to consider how time zone differences could interfere with your respective availability.

4. Research Your Potential Guests

While screening questionnaires and non-recorded screening interviews can be a great way to weed out guests that do not fit your podcast’s theme or tone, they are not always a good reflection of a person’s background and personality. After all, you do not want to host a guest with a questionable or problematic reputation, as it could offend your podcast audience and potentially put them off your show. 

Think of your guests as a reflection of your own integrity. If you host a guest that offends your target audience, they may view your decision to host them as you vouching for the guest and their opinions.

If your potential guest has made appearances on other podcasts, or if they host their own, listen to these recordings and get an idea of how they behave when they are on a podcast. Not only will this give you a better understanding of their perspectives, but it will also give you an idea of how they speak, giving you a much better idea of what you should expect.

If you are hoping to interview a potential guest because they have expertise in a particular topic, you can look into their education, work experience, and other credentials, such as publications. Most of this information should be available on platforms like LinkedIn.

If you are unsure about prospective guests, you can request references or reach out to podcasters who have interviewed them in the past. You can also look into the social media channels of potential guests, as this will reflect the type of person they are and what kind of circles they interact with.

Why Is Screening Important?

As mentioned, screening helps ensure you are only inviting the best possible guests on your podcast. It will also give you the confidence of knowing you are providing relevant and valuable content that your listeners will actually engage with.

Remember to be completely transparent with each potential podcast guest. You also need to be flexible with your schedule, as they are doing you a favor by agreeing to make an appearance on your podcast. You should also consider backup plans, like being comfortable hosting your podcast without a guest, as last-minute cancellations can always occur.

If you plan to host multiple guests, we recommend reading our Guide to Hosting Group Podcasts. For those planning to travel to their guests or host their podcast on the road, we also suggest reading 5 Strategies for Podcasting in Different Locations.