How to Write an Interview Essay


(Updated on August 17, 2019 by Michelle Williams)

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.

How to Write an Interview Essay

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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