Have more questions ready than you will likely use, so that you can make adjustments as the interview takes place. For instance, your subject may begin focusing on what you thought was a side topic, but turns out to be the key part of your interview.
Rank your questions in order of importance to make sure you ask your best ones, or list them all in the order you'd ask them and color-code the most important ones. Arrange the interview s. You'll need to contact the interviewee or his or her representative to arrange a time and place to conduct the interview. You'll also need permission to record the interview with either audio or video equipment, or to take photographs.
Be sure the person you contact knows who you are and why you want to interview him or her. A library, restaurant, or campus location if you're doing this for a college writing class would be suitable.
You may want to get the interviewee's consent to use his or her comments in your essay in writing, as well as permission to record those comments during the interview. By law, if you are recording an interview conducted over the phone, you must obtain written permission. Be on time at the place you've agreed to meet for the interview.
Conduct the interview s. Even if you are using a recording device, take notes during the interview, as they can help you look for specific points in the recording to incorporate into the essay. Be patient and respectful as you ask your questions and wait for responses. Give the interviewee time to reflect, and you will likely be rewarded with more insightful answers. A few deeper responses are usually better than many superficial ones.
Immediately after the interview, write down your thoughts and impressions about the interview and interviewee. They may help you shape the essay. Always end the interview by thanking the person. Decide what format your interview essay will have. If the essay is a class assignment, the format will likely be pre-determined. Clarify with your instructor whether he or she expects questions and answers, long quotations, or paraphrasing, and if the primary focus should be the interview itself or in placing it in a larger context.
This form allows paraphrasing of some information the interviewee says, along with direct quotes for the material you most want to emphasize. This is the most likely format for a class assignment, and offers the most opportunity to add context and analysis.
This is a looser format than the formal writing style required for most essays. You can address the reader directly and use both first and second person. This format can be suitable for anything from class assignments to magazine articles.
This form presents your questions to the interviewee, followed by the interviewee's responses. That is, the text looks something like this: How long have you been in the circus? These are always direct quotes, although you may insert explanatory material in parentheses and substitutions, such as a person's name in place of a personal pronoun, in brackets.
This format is best suited for essays with only a single interviewee or a closely related group, such as spouses or the core cast of a TV show.
Plan an outline of the essay. The outline will depend largely on the essay format you are following, but a strong introduction, which clearly identifies your subject and the goals and focus of your interview, is always important. Utilizing both whenever available will allow you to thoroughly consider both the highlights of the interview and the most significant themes to emerge from it.
These, in turn, will inform your outline of what information your essay will cover and how it will appear. Traditional school essays often utilize a five paragraph format introduction, three supporting paragraphs, conclusion , and this can often work with interview essays as well.
Develop a thesis statement. If the purpose of your essay is only to present your interviewee to your reader, your thesis will likely be a brief summary identifying the person and his or her background, accomplishments, and qualifications. See How to Write a Thesis Statement for more advice. Flesh out your essay. The body of your essay needs to follow the selected format while supporting the thesis and providing substantial coverage of the actual interview.
Interviews can sometimes produce a good deal of repetitive answers even with high-quality questions , so you may need to trim repetitions and unnecessary elements from the body of your essay. Make sure that whatever material you do keep remains true to both the spirit of the interview and the overarching focus of your essay.
Proofread and revise your work. Any type of essay, including interview essays, should be thoroughly proofread and carefully revised to provide maximum clarity and impact. Reading over the essay yourself is a good start, but it is always wise to have another set of eyes look it over as well.
Another reader is likely to catch errors, repetitions, and unclear sections that you have glossed over. Layers of editing and revising can sometimes cause the essay to drift away from the original source and intent. You may even want to let the interviewee read it over to ensure that it captures his or her voice. Depending on your assignment, you may not need to explicitly cite the interview itself, but always check to make sure. Always cite any supplemental materials, however.
Make sure one more time that any direct quotations from your source are placed in quotation marks, and any paraphrasing is done without quotation marks. Don't put words in your subject's mouth, and respect the words that do emerge from it. Is there a way to avoid question and answer sessions during interviews? Not if the interview is in person!
A job interview is by definition a question and answer session. If you really want the job or position and you know your stuff, you should have no problem answering any questions.
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