How To Write A Interview Style Essay

When learning how to write an interview essay, you have a chance to share someone else's views with the world.  An interview essay is gives you an idea of what a person is like, and what kind of opinions that person holds regarding a particular topic or group of topics.  The interview essay can generally be written in a conversational style, as the interview itself.  For much of an interview essay, you'll be writing using the interviewee's own words, so one of the most important parts of the interview essay is the preparatory phase where you decide what the general aims of the interview will be and determine a list of possible questions, along with an outline on the topics that you want to hit as you move through the interview process.

The interview report should start with a basic introduction of the person being interviewed.  Give the reader a sense of that person's past accomplishments and history.  You should also make it clear why that person in particular is being interviewed, whether they have some particular connection to the topic being discussed, or some kind of special knowledge that will give them a particular amount of perspective on the situation.  Once you have introduced the interviewee, you should move on to the questions.  Your questions should try to relate whatever topics the interview is about to the interviewee's own experience.  Bring up any situations in which the interviewee has been involved personally in the topic that you're discussing.  If the topic is simply the interviewee's own history, then you can use your knowledge of the general outline of the interviewee's life as a starting point, and proceed from outline point to outline point, getting some of the interviewee's personal stories and recollections as you go.

Remember not to be too attached to the outline that you go into the interview carrying.  Over the course of the interview, the interviewee should have a chance to become involved and determine the course of what is being discussed.  If the conversation starts to run too far a field, then you can try to reign things back in, but generally it's good to let the interviewee talk about whatever aspects of the situation or topic are most interesting to the interviewee.  This gives you and the reader the best sense of how the interviewee's mind works.

Also be sure that you have a reliable method of recording the interview.  If you don't have a recorder with you, then you can try to have someone transcribe the interview (if you have someone who knows shorthand, then this can be useful), or you can simply write down the main points in order to give people an outline sense of what was said.  Write down any specific quotes that you intend to use, but don't quote words in your interview essay that weren't specifically stated by the interviewees.  If all you have is a vague sense of the interviewee's opinion, then you should make it clear that you're paraphrasing.  Follow these tips and your interview essay will give people an accurate impression of the person.

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Not every bit of information is explicitly set out in a book, paper or news release. Cutting-edge answers to difficult questions may need to come from an expert investigating your area of interest. According to the American Psychological Association, an interview should be cited as a personal communication, but, if it supports a significant portion of your argument, it should be recorded in detail in your text.

1. Explain the clear purpose of your interview. You should not use an interview for information that can be obtained elsewhere. Before your interview, you should be familiar with the background literature and have clear, concise questions prepared. For example, "Published research does not include a detailed or frank discussion of patient reporting bias in emergency medicine."

2. Introduce the subject of your interview in-text, describing her qualifications, background and why she is suitable to answer your questions that were not available in the literature. For example, "I contacted Jane Jones, M.D., Ph.D., for a knowledgeable discussion of patient reporting bias. Dr. Jones is an expert in the field, having practiced for 15 years and published high-profile research studies that accounted for patient reporting bias."

3. Present the question you asked the interviewee when explaining her response in the text of your paper. This is important to provide the context in which the interviewee presented fact or opinion. Be clear whether the question was open-ended or close-ended. For example, "To assess the methods used to correct for reporting bias, I asked Dr. Jones, 'What are the steps you used in your research to account for reporting bias?' I also asked her to discuss other biases that need to be accounted for in observational studies."

4. Use quotes, rather than paraphrasing, when citing specific information and facts given by the interviewee. A quote longer than 40 words should be set aside as a block quote, according to APA style. For example, "Dr. Jones answered, 'My primary method for correcting reporting bias is a carefully-constructed questionnaire in lieu of a free-form patient interview.' " A longer discussion of other biases should be set aside in a block quote.

5. Include an in-text citation in APA style each time you use information from the interview. Interviews are cited according to the source. A.E. Smith (personal communication, March 21, 1995)

6. Omit a reference to the interview in the bibliography of your paper. The APA does not consider personal communication interviews to be recoverable references that should be included in the bibliography.


  • Include a transcript of the interview or the full text of emails as an addendum to your paper if possible.

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Chris Daniels covers advances in nutrition and fitness online. Daniels has numerous certifications and degrees covering human health, nutritional requirements and sports performance. An avid cyclist, weightlifter and swimmer, Daniels has experienced the journey of fitness in the role of both an athlete and coach.

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