How to get interviews from experts

(Walter Bradly) #1

For my community, I’ve started an interview series with experts in the field. I know some of these experts personally, but I’m also interested in interviewing people who I don’t know. I’ve done similar things before, but since reading the feverbee blog I’ve become more concerned with making sure that I’m persuasive when I invite people to participate in an interview.

I was wondering if any of you have done something similar, and if you have any examples of emails/letters inviting people to participate in an interview that were particularly persuasive.


(Duncan Field) #2

Hi Walter,

I have some experience with this - as a freelancer I built my own website to host essays and interviews, and as you can imagine getting authors and musicians to participate in interviews with somebody unknown was sometimes difficult. I will dig up some examples.

(Sarah Hawk) #3

Hi @Othello, I can help here too.

I’ve been running experts Q&As for a few years and I’ve honed my invitations over that time.
A few things that I’ve learned to include in the invitation:

  • How I know them (“my colleague speaks highly of you”, “I saw you speak at [conference]”) and why I want them (“your message resonates with our audience”, “I believe you have real value to add”, “I think we could learn a lot from you”)
  • Clear direction around topic, session format, what is involved, and links to past sessions for reference
  • The value proposition (what will they get out of it?) i.e. the opportunity to self-promote
  • An info sheet with details of the session logistics (attached below)

ATU - Important tips for guest hosts.pdf (171.6 KB)

(Walter Bradly) #4

That’s a great idea! I’ll have to try it.

Would it be possible to quote one or two of the emails you’ve used?

(Duncan Field) #5


I’ve copied and pasted an example here - sent to a prominent author and television host. I think it boils down to a few things, all of which are important:

  • Establishing your identity and purpose

  • Quickly and clearly outlining the request, and the greater context the interviews are in

  • Demonstrating knowledge of the person, and how it fits in to the context/questions

  • Providing sample questions

  • Establishing expectations (what exactly would they be agreeing to? How difficult will this be to fit into their schedule)

I’ve found that this simple philosophy can work to catch people’s attention. Many leaders in their fields receive many interview requests that all aim to pose the same questions, leading to the same rote answers. In my case, i found that establishing my interest in them as hopefully deeper, asking more interesting questions, lead to a higher success rate. It basically boils down to whether they will find the experience interesting, if the interview will add anything to the wealth of interviews out there. Most often, when the subject enjoys the questions and ideas, the end-product is much better.

Good Morning,

My name is Duncan Field, and I am a writer from the Toronto area. I’m writing on behalf of the team at, a small online arts and culture publication which I founded as a way to enter into the public conversation. Each year we feature interviews with interesting people as part of our Spotlight series. This year, we are focusing on the relationship between art, the artist, and the public, and how we crave and create narratives around existing works. These are the stories behind the stories. How did the Beatles write the White Album? And why does it matter?

I am writing to request an interview with Mr. Ingram, to join our fall line up for Spotlight 2015. Our current guests include Alan Cross (Radio Producer, the Ongoing History of New Music), DT Max (Staff Writer at the New Yorker, author of “Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A biography of David Foster Wallace), the team at the Impossible Project (last producer of polaroid film), and Carl Glover (Designer, Aleph Studios). I would like to talk to Mr. Ingram about the relationship between narrative and science. I think his experience in broadcasting (Daily Planet) and writing would provide an interesting perspective to our theme. Where narrative surrounding art might be subjective and speculative, narrative around science might be more objective and explanatory. Is objectivity possible in this regard? Is it merely performance? Is science media connected more to our scientific curiosity, or our desire for stories? These are some examples of topics which would be appropriate. Our interviews generally take between 25 and 45 minutes, and can be conducted in person, by phone, or even by correspondence.

We hope you will accept our invitation. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Kind Regards,

(Sarah Hawk) #6

Sure, here you go.

Hi Erin,
My name is Sarah Hawk and I’m Community Manager at

I stumbled across your name on while on the hunt for inspirational women practicing in the UX field. We get a lot of questions in our community from people (often women) that are looking to transition into UX from other industries, and they are looking for advice, guidance and role models.

We run a series of Q&A sessions called “Ask the UXperts” with special guests and I was hoping you’d be willing to be one of those guests.

I’m really impressed by your thinking around inclusive design and I’d love to share the benefits of your perspective and experience with the community.

The sessions are a one-hour text chat (no audio) on Slack, where members from our community ask you questions about the chosen subject, and you answer them.

Here are some samples of past sessions:

There’s basically no prep required on your behalf—we advertise the session, and you show up and answer questions! I moderate the sessions and queue questions via a private Slack channel if things get busy.

We’d be honoured to have you on board. What do you think?