Fire Those Questions Straight Away

By Daniel Scocco

questions and answersThis post is part of the weekly Q&A section. Just use the contact form if you want to submit a question.

Last week I published a post titled Want To Interview Someone? Polish the Questions and Make Them Interesting. The basic idea was that if you want to interview someone, you need to work on the questions. In other words, make them interesting, proofread and so on, else you risk getting rejected.

In a comment on that post Arun Basil Lal asked:

Are we supposed to contact the authors with the questions prepared or should we ask for permission before hand?

In other words, is it better to email them the questions right away or ask them for permission first and then mail them the questions? Which is more acceptable in your opinion?

In my opinion, you should always send the questions straight away. Here is why:

  1. If you just write an email asking for a permission to interview someone there is a chance that your email will just be ignored.
  2. By including the questions in your very first email you increase your chances of landing the interview, because the person will see what the questions are about, and whether or not she is interested in answering them.
  3. We are all busy, and by sending the questions in your first email you can save time for both sides.

In fact, I believe that this is the right approach for any type of email communication. For instance, if you want to propose a joint venture to someone, don’t just write an email mentioning that you got this great idea and that you want to know if the person is interested in becoming your partner. Obviously the other person can only say yes or know after she knows what the idea is about, so your first email should include that information.

Our society is characterized by information overload and short attention spans. Going straight to the point, therefore, is a must.

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24 Responses to “Fire Those Questions Straight Away”

  • Crazy Oldie

    I have always wanted to interview some people in the industry of my liking…I should take your advice and just fire off an email with the question.

  • SATISH — Technotip.org

    I too had this question in mind from a long time..thanks for clarifying Daniel.

    But I have another question in mind:
    While we write a guest post for someone, I think its a good idea to send the article itself in the first email. But what to do if we do not receive any reply from the blog owner? Not even a rejection mail! Should we consider that no response as the rejection? OR For how many days it is ideal to wait before submitting the same article as guest post on some other blogs? Should we write followup mails to inquire about the status of our guest article or should we move on to submit it to other blogs?

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Satish,

    I would wait 2 or 3 days. If you don’t receive a reply by then, I would assume that the blogger is not interested, and therefore you can proceed to pitch the article to someone else.

    I would also not follow up with more emails if you haven’t got an answer back. Maybe the blogger is not interested, and in this case you would be spamming him.

  • Seth W

    I like the idea of firing away some interview questions. I will definitely be doing a few interviews. I think they are a great way to get some information about very useful subjects from excerpts. You can also make them targeted.

    Thanks for the advice on the guest posts in the comments as well. Nice information.

  • Seth W

    I have a question… How often should you publish content about the same subject? Like if I posted something already on the topic but want my new readers to know the information is it okay to publish a new post about the same subject? Will my old readers get bored and leave?

  • ROW

    …And this is applicable not only for interviews but for any kind of deals over the web.

    I have got good advertising deals from big companies just by following above approach for one of my popular blogs.

    Daniel’s 3rd comment – I agree 100%. Don’t bother the person anymore. Yes, it sounds rude when someone doesn’t reply but understand from their point of view, they may be getting 100s of such mails everyday. Better idea is to move on without “burning-the-bridges”.

  • Arun Basil Lal

    Daniel,

    Thanks for pulling it up here. 🙂

    @Satish:

    I would prefer asking the author if he is interested first. He might have published a related post earlier or might not be interested at all.

    And if he doesn’t reply, (I havent submitted the post yet.. in that case) after a week, I would not mail him again. Active bloggers never take so long, if they take, then its not worth being published on their blog.

    See any Professional Blogger would reply in 48 hours. The A-listers can, then why can’t the others do it in a week..?

    I hope you got my point, I dont mean any offense, but as from my experience, only on Blogs with active community do Guest Posts work well. Active community needs an active Blogger at the head. 🙂

    @Seth W:

    Some insights:
    You can try updating the post with some more information and post it in a new style.

    If you simply repost it again, Google might consider it as duplicate content.

    Recently, I reposted a post I had posted on my old blog. I had posted it there some 16 months ago and when I posted it again, with minor modifications, an old reader came in to say that he have read it before… See, readers have good memory.

    Also to satifsfy new readers why dont you make a list of your best posts and keep it..?
    I keep yearly best posts lists 🙂

    Arun

  • Frank Gantz

    If you have a niche that has leaders that may not necessarily be blogging or on-line all of the time, including the questions on the first e-mail will probably be extremely helpful. Since they don’t spend as much time on-line as others do, one shot should be sufficient.

  • Holly – The Work at Home Woman

    Good information – I recently contacted a few women about conducting an interview and they all said yes!!! But next time I will send the questions along with the request…. Do you think that’s a bit presumptuous though?

  • Himanshu

    That’s a very good question Arun. And I agree with you Daniel that we should send the questions straight away to the bloggers.

    There’s so much difference in asking a kid to do his homework and giving a candy to him first and then asking him to do that.

  • Gris

    wow, i want to interview Daniel, could you tell me what’s you interesting?

  • Marie {Make and Takes}

    I agree. Get it all out there, revealing your intentions and saving everyone time. I’d personally like that type of email, and think I’ll start doing the same to others I approach. Thanks!

  • Juscelino M. Acevedo

    The best part is that I have been wondering the answer to this question a couple of weeks. I have sent out a couple of interview requests and not a heard from anyone. It makes a lot of sense for the person to see how the interview will go beforehand, then determine if they are interested or not.

  • mark harrison

    The bit about asking or proposing straight away in your first email is good advice. I have just emailed someone with an offline proposition and they have replied positively.
    Of course I left out the fine detail but gave them just enough to make them interested in talking to me further.

  • Muzi Mohale

    What is the best way to ensure you secure an interview, after sending the first email with questions? I’ve sent out numerous emails with a brief intro about interview request and the questions, yet 90% of my targeted interviewees don’t bother replying. It’s entrepreneurs that I want to feature as a profile on my blog. Both start-ups and established entrepreneurs…I would think start-ups are hungry for exposure as opposed to established players. My blog is new and is that counting against my success in attracting their interest?

  • Another Way To Earn Money

    In this case you must now who is the person you talking to……

  • InternetHowBlog

    I personally send the email with the questions. Because, if you keep the question for second email, even though they accept the interview, they might miss your second email. Also, they might change their mind as well. So, I think it is good to send the questions with the permission for interview.

  • Boerne Search

    Man, those are three very good pointers. I think I am the same way. If something is explained to asked right away I discard it. Everyones busy these days and the faster the better. Hate to say it but it’s true. No one has time for B.S!

  • Attraction Marketing Tips

    Great tips, I much prefer it when people let me know what their objective is straight up, it shows that they have thought through what they want to do and are serious.

    I’d also say that following the person’s work and social communities for a while and contributing in a useful way beforehand is a good thing to do. This allows you to not only genuinely compliment their work in the introductory email but also will give the interview/conversation a better flow at the time.

    I have used Skype in combination with the Pamela add on to record interviews, what do you use for recording your interviews?

    Steve Anderson

  • Jason aka Beltwayboy

    Great Post. I want to approach a couple people about interviews, but I have been a little hesitant out of fear. I know I should go ahead and ask. What is your technique on approaching someone that you want to interview ? Thanks.

  • bebek oyunları

    Great Post. I want to approach a couple people about interviews, but I have been a little hesitant out of fear. I know I should go ahead and ask. What is your technique on approaching someone that you want to interview ? Thanks.

  • Theo R

    If you just send them the questions straight off, doesn’t it make it seem like all you’re interested in is getting an interview…? Shouldn’t you first try to build a bit of a relationship, get on their radar, show that you are truly interested in their site and what they have to say?

    I don’t usually do interviews through email, but I sometimes request them by email. I’ve found that people are more receptive if you at least show you have a real interest in their offerings. Comment intelligently on an article they’ve written, express your admiration for their creative skills, or let them know you’ve been following their work for a while.

    They’ll make more of an effort to accommodate you, I’ve found.

  • Medyum

    I like the idea of firing away some interview questions. I will definitely be doing a few interviews. I think they are a great way to get some information about very useful subjects from excerpts. You can also make them targeted.

    Thanks for the advice on the guest posts in the comments as well. Nice information.

  • hikaye

    at tips, I much prefer it when people let me know what their objective is straight up, it shows that they have thought through what they want to do and are serious.

    I’d also say that following the person’s work and social communities for a while and contributing in a useful way beforehand is a good thing to do. This allows you to not only genuinely compliment their work in the introductory email but also will give the interview/conversation a better flow at the time.

    I have used Skype in combination with the Pamela add on to record interviews, what do you use for recording your interviews?

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