How to write an interview essay


Interview essays are designed to provide readers with an overall impression of a particular interview subject and present thoughts on the chosen group of topics. Besides, this academic assignment offers a great opportunity to get a deeper insight by analyzing all responses within a larger context. This type of writing is quite common and it provides the skills necessary for students interested in journalism and becoming good writers. How to write an interview essay? It should make readers feel as though they asked given questions.

The basics of interviewing for your essay

First, you need to determine the main purpose of your writing because it will affect who and how you interview.

  • If it’s a factual piece, interview people who have any expertise in the chosen subject matter. For example, if it’s about a science topic, interview scientists.
  • If it’s an opinion piece, interview people who have their strong opinion about the chosen topic. Look for someone who can express a personal stance articulately and has the necessary credentials.
  • If your essay has a narrow perspective, interview only a few people.
  • If it presents a general consensus, interview many people with varying credentials and expertise.

How to choose the best questions

Research the given interview subject and make a list of interesting questions. To be able to conduct a successful interview, it’s necessary to delve into the backgrounds and history of the chosen subject. Use this information to come up with the best questions to be asked in your interview.

Read different works about your chosen subject and research it. The more you know about your topic, the more intelligent questions you will ask. Search for any previous relevant interviews because they will give you a better idea of the best questions and help you decide on perfect subjects. Remember that the questions that require direct answers are excellent for gathering factual information, while the open-ended ones are good for gathering extra data for your research.

Make a full list of the questions that you want to ask and have more of them ready because they will let you make the necessary adjustments during the interview. Rank them all in order of importance to ensure that you ask the best questions. You can also list them all in the right order or color-code your questions to achieve the same goal.

How to arrange and conduct your interview

You should contact all interviewees to arrange the right place and time to conduct a future interview. Get a permission to record it and take pictures when needed. Make sure that these people know why you want to interview them. Select a quiet and nice place with no distractions. You may need to get their consent to record and use personal comments in your interview essay. It’s advisable to have any backup interviewees in case some people you plan to interview can’t make it. You always need to be on time in the place where you meet with all interviewees. Use the following tips to achieve the best results with your interview:

  • When conducting your interviews, take notes, even if you use a special recording device. That’s because they will help you search for interesting points in records to use them in your future essay.
  • Using recording devices is a must because they allow you to save a lot of time for writing down all important insights on themes, contexts, how questions are approached, comfort levels, and so on.
  • Be respectful and patients when asking questions and waiting for responses. Give all interviewees enough time to reflect to be rewarded with their insightful and full answers. Getting a few deep responses is better than many bad ones.
  • Right after interviews, write down your personal impressions and thoughts about them because they will help you shape a good essay.
  • End every interview by thanking people who take part in it.

The process of writing your interview essay

How to write an interview essay? To give the right answer, you need to determine a format of this paper. In most cases, it’s predetermined by teachers and instructors. If you have any questions, talk to your professor to find out whether any long quotes, questions and answers, and paraphrasing are expected. Clarify whether the main focus of your paper is the interview itself or placing it in any larger context. In general, your interview essay can be written in one of the following academic formats:

  • Narrative format. It allows you to paraphrase some information along with using direct quotes for any material that you want to emphasize. The best part of using this format is that it provides you with many opportunities to add more analysis and context.
  • Conversational format. It’s a big looser compared to the above-mentioned format because it allows you to address readers directly and use the first and second person. It’s suitable for many class assignments.
  • Question-and-answer format. It presents your questions to people followed by their responses. Be sure to include direct quotes in addition to any explanatory materials in parentheses and different substitutions in brackets. Choose this academic format to essays with a single interviewee.

Planning your essay outline

The outline of your future interview essay greatly depends on the chosen format that you follow. However, a strong introductory paragraph that clearly defines your topic, interview focus, and goals is a must.

Read all interview notes and listen to the recording that you have because they will let you both interview highlights and significant themes. In turn, they form your essay outline, help you determine the information covered, and how it appears in your paper. Your possible outline can be the following:

  • An introductory paragraph that starts with a great anecdotes about interviewees and presents a thesis statement;
  • The main body with a few key points that support your chosen focus;
  • A concluding paragraph that sums up all the information that you present.

Fleshing out your interview essay

The main body should follow the chosen format, back up your thesis, and giving the substantial coverage of your interview. Sometimes, interviews may result in many repetitive answers, so you need to trim them and other unnecessary elements. Take a look at the examples of how to use similar interview materials in transcriptions, presentations of personal experiences, and placing interviews in a larger context if you feel confused.

Why proofread and review your work

Ant type of academic paper must be carefully revised and thoroughly proofread to provide the audience with maximum impact and clarity. Reading over your interview essay is a good start, but it’s helpful to ask other people to do that same because they are more likely to catch different repetitions, errors, and unclear parts. Go back to original notes, transcripts, and recordings to ensure that your interview essays reflect them all. Finally, you should document and reference the sources used in this paper.

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