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A ‘Quick’ Tip on Landing an Interview for Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 4th of June 2008 Writing Content 0 Comments

Image by ItzaFineDay

Over the last month since launching the ProBlogger book I’ve done more interviews with other bloggers and sites than I’ve ever done before. It’s been a lot of fun but it’s also taught me a lot about how to approach people for interviews on your blog.

Perhaps the best piece of advice that I could give a blogger wanting to approach another person to be the subject of an interview is to make it a manageable task for the person that you approach.

There is nothing more off putting when you’re asked to do an interview than being sent 20 questions.

Actually – there is one more off putting thing than 20 questions…. It’s being told that there will only be a few questions… which you agree to…. and then getting sent 20 questions.

I’m not against long interviews (and have even done a couple over the last months) but it is important to establish the scope of the interview that you want up front with your potential interview subject.

If you’re looking for something in-depth then let them know this so that they can put the time aside for it (if they say yes). Just be willing to get a ‘no’ if you’re after a long interview as they can take considerable time. As a guide – my 18 question interview with Guy Kawasaki a couple of weeks back took me 6 or so hours (over numerous days) to write up.

To increase the chances of someone saying yes to your interview a shorter interview might work. You can also increase your chances by giving them a brief insight into the topic of your site and how it is relevant to them.

Many people are willing to do interviews with bloggers – but you’ll increase the chances when you make it achievable and realistic to do. An example of this is that the most success I’ve ever had with interviewing other bloggers is with ‘one question interviews‘.

Further ReadingHow to Get and Conduct Interviews for Your Blog

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Hi darren, i think longer interviews should be one word interviews. Yes and no can also save allot of ur time.

  • Interviews are a great idea for both parties involved. I haven’t conducted any interviews for my site as of yet, but I have been interviewed a couple of times.

    It is highly annoying when you agree to a few questions to have an email that is a good few pages long. Short interviews are definitely better for everyone!

  • What is preferable, an interviews by mail, which is not really an interview but rather a questionnaire, or a real interview face to face, or over the phone/Skype? I think if you really know what you want from someone you might want to have the ability to reply on a persons ansers… right?

  • @Farfield I’ve known individuals to e-mail the interview questions ahead of the interview so that the interviewee is prepared the day-of and so that they can record the podcast with no surprises.

  • Great tip. My interview skills are sub-standard, to say the least and I’ve recently been considering adding interviews as a feature to my blog. However, I couldn’t consider that fully until I’m caught up on the best ways to approach someone for the interview. Great to read the perspective from the other side — I’m sure it’ll help if and when I kick interviewing into full swing.

  • Hey, interesting topic. I haven’t even thought up of such a thing yet. It has not crossed my mind to interview other bloggers, it seems like a good idea. I think the “one question” interview would work best from my novice point of view on the subject. I just picture myself being really busy, as I usually am and getting emails with 20 questions for me to answer. I would have to say 20 questions is an awful lot, and they probably would be complex questions I would have to take my time to answer. For high profile bloggers I think the best is the “one question” interview, very few will go for the 20 questions in my opinion.

  • There are a couple of tips I’d add for both the interviewer and the interviewee (you would like to be interviewed, right?):

    1. Make Yourself Available – I can’t tell you how many times I seek out an author of a book only to find that they don’t exist according to Google or their website displays a non-working e-mail address. Sounds simple but make sure you’re able to be found.

    2. State Your Requirements – often time producers are looking for various types and lengths of content for their show or blog. If you can only commit to X number of minutes then tell them up front.


    1. State the Benefit – when initially requesting an interview tell the interviewee what they’ll get out of it. How many visitors does you blog get? How many listeners download your podcast? Are you listed in top directories? You’re offering exposure so tell them up front about your audience.

    2. Give Parameters – if you know your questions up front then send them through ahead of time. But if you don’t plan to stick to the questions (e.g. conversational style interview) then state that approach up front.

    3. Offer Flexibility – if you offer the interviewee options in regards to when, how, where and how long the interview will be they’ll be more accommodating. Also offer to avoid certain topics if they are sensitive (unless, of course, this is your intent).

  • it helps if the interviewer and interviewee both listen to each other carefully during an interview. The best interviews that I have done were ones that were openly collaborative. Most people aren’t adverse to being interviewed and when it’s kept short, sometimes you can identify whether the story needs to be any bigger. We can take some tips from journalists: have some very targeted yes and no questions, then also have open ended questions that expand on points you think are important. And above all, be respectful of your interviewee, as you will at some point find you may need to bring them in again for something else potentially.

  • Equally important too is that readers don’t want to read 20 question long interviews either.

  • All good advice – I bumrushed a few of my interview targets with 15-question interviews before; never heard back from them. I learned my lesson and I now try to frame my interview requests properly.

  • Hey Darren, thanks for the simple straightforward advice. I saw a link to this post from Dan Schawbel on Twitter…and it caught my attention, as I have just finished a few interviews with authors etc…so nice timing, and good advice! Cheers

  • One question interview is a great concept. It could be used when you just want to get to know anyone. People feel uncomfortable when they are given the “20 questions.” Well crafted, open ended questions will allow the person to expand and volunteer information.

    Jessica Bond
    Medical Careerist

  • I can imagine just being emailed a huge amount of interview questions does not engage the interviewee, it makes the interview seem too much like work.

  • Perfectly timed post for me. I had been thinking that I start asking people to do interviews. Now I have a starting point.


    Live From Las Vegas
    The Masked Millionaire

  • I do interview style posts on my blog called “Catching up with…” where I let readers catch up on their favorite figure skaters from the past. I offer them the choice of answering 10 questions via e-mail or chatting with me on the phone for about 20 minutes. It’s been 50/50 which way they choose. If I talk to them on the phone, I make sure it’s at most 20 minutes. If they’re answering questions via e-mail, I mix it up with short response-type questions (ie. favorite movie?) and questions that require a few sentences (ie. What is your most memorable competition moment and why?) So far, it’s worked out pretty well!

  • What about doing phone interviews (can be very cheap by Skype / VoIP / etc) and then posting them both in audio and transcribed with added links, etc?

  • Always be concise if you are interviewing somebody, ask important question only.. 7 or 10 for me is the best number of question you can give.

  • Hi there…

    I have a general list of 10-15 questions. Inevitably, some interviewees take half an hour to interview, and others take 3 hours! There’s no rhyme or reason for it. It just is.

    I have had No success doing an interview-by-email, and mild success doing phone ones. The best is always in-person. If you must travel then–with the appropriate letter–you can get an airline or bus company to sponsor you.


  • Darren,

    Spot on. I just preparing a list of question to interview, well not really a blogger, but one of the authorities in web directories.

    Great tip, I’ll keep in mind on how many questions I’ll ask, as promised :)

    Thanks, Darren!

  • Interviews are the most read section of my blog, I get people looking at interviews I did more then a year ago. I just e-mail people questions and they e-mail me back the answers. This gives them more time to think about the answers and prevents me from misquoting them.

  • Interviews with collectors, historians, authors, and artists are a big component of my blog. As such, I regularly approach a lot of very busy people for interviews.

    My success rate is about 80 percent. I owe this to keeping the interview short. I limit my interviews to 4 to 6 question. Of the more than 50 interviews I’ve conducted, I’ve never exceeded 6 questions. I credit my methods for never having been turned down by an interview subject for having too many questions or making the process too difficult.

    And the results have been spectacular. The interviews have become one of my most popular features, and have introduced me to some fascinating people from around the world.

  • Ann

    I’ve had the experience of being approached for an interview (by a traditional reporter) who is marginally rude, and doesn’t even seem that interested in the information itself – it’s more about meeting a deadline or filling an editorial gap.

    Needless to say, I’ve been turned off.

    Respect for the interviewee, especially in the context of blog interviews, is paramount, in my book.

  • Hi Darren,

    I can understand the time it takes to respond to a 18 question blog, but that is how I originally found your site from the interview you had with Guy Kawasaki. So that you for taking the time to respond!

  • This helpful since I interview PC modding communities almost every week

  • Great, now I just have to wait for someone to interview me!

  • I’ve been interviewing quite a bit lately too and keep my questions to 5 that I send via email prior to the interview. I had the chance recently to interview Muhammad Saleem, the “Social Media Maven”. It was a great interview (I felt) and it took about 15 minutes or so.

    Another thing I’ve used to get bloggers to interview is ask them specific things that they can softly “promote”. Ask them questions that will allow them to shine and tell people why they are the industry leader. Although some may not admit it, we all like to talk ourselves up.

    Thanks for the tips. I hope to interview you soon too :)

  • tips

    This is great, look forward to looking into every area. Thanks for being there.

  • I would definitely recommend WetFeet’s series on interviewing, finding a job, resume writing, etc. Right now they are selling a package that includes an interviewing tutorial video, and it’s only $79. All of the books are really useful for recent grads or people graduating soon, but can be just as useful 10 years later.