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How to Interview Someone for a Paper

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 2/14/2012

Do you need to interview a person for an upcoming paper? It is quite overwhelming; however, the information from a personal interview is usually worth the preparation and work.

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    Preparation and Organization

    For some students, the interview process is nerve wracking and scary. However, if you follow these directions, you will be able to set up an interview, write good questions, and carry out the interview.

    You need to ask yourself the following questions:

    • Who are the local experts on the topic I need to learn more about for my paper?
    • How do I contact these people? Does anyone know them to help me set up the interview?
    • Are their phone numbers in the phone book, or can I find them on the Internet?

    After you have found the contact information for at least two people, you want to sound as professional as possible and plan out the phone conversation. You need to have a calendar handy and know when you are available to negotiate a time to meet. You also need to explain why you need to complete the interview.

    If you plan to record the interview with a video camera or cassette recorder, you need to ask the person's permission during the phone conversation. It will help you to get all of the information correct in your paper.

    Many people will be willing to meet with you at a library, a restaurant or the school for an interview when they find out it is a school assignment. However, some will not have time or will decline. So you need to have at least two candidates to call for the interview.

    When calling a prospective person to interview, you need to state your full name, the name of your school and the reason why you need to interview them. Then, you need to ask them if they would be willing to meet with you.

    When you call the people, make sure to write down the time you negotiate and the date. You do not want to waste a person's time by not showing up for an interview. If you only need one person to interview and the first person agrees, you do not need to call the other person.

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    Writing Questions and Conducting the Interview

    Write Your Quesitons 

    Once the interview time is set, you need to write at least 10 questions. The first questions should ask the person to spell his or her name correctly as well as his or her title.

    Do not write questions that will give only "yes" and "no" answers. You want the person to elaborate and to give details so that you have enough to write about in your paper.

    Conducting the Interview

    For the interview, find a quiet place and two comfortable chairs. Ask again if you intend to use a recording device and begin with your prepared questions. In the end, ask if he or she has any questions. You might find out additional information that will be useful for your paper.

    Write a Thank You Letter

    After the interview, it is very important that you write the person a thank you letter or card. People like to think that their time is appreciated. It is polite and a positive way to end the interview process.

    You now know how to conduct an interview to write a paper. If you follow these steps, you should have enough information to write your paper.

References

  • Photo by Kellie Hayden

Interviews and Essays

The following articles will help you to complete an interview and write the interview essay.
  1. How to Interview Someone for a Paper
  2. How to Write an Interview Essay

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