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Within an interview essay, you can present somebody’s thoughts on a certain topic, and this essay type also offers you an opportunity to consider somebody’s ideas in a more general context or analyze them.Interview essays are crucial for those who study journalism or just want to improve writing skills. There are several types of interview essays, but all of them are aimed to create an impression that readers talked to somebody personally.
Now let’s consider interview essays in more detail, so you’ll be able to write a good essay, following simple step-by-step instructions.
- Define the purpose of your paper
The purpose of your essay affects the interviewed person, it determines the chosen method and some features of essay writing.
- If your assignment is about some scientific phenomenon, you’ll interview a scientist. If it’s about some period in history, you’ll interview a historian or a person who participated in these events or lived during these times.
- If your essay is aimed to provide a certain opinion, you’ll want to interview an authoritative person who has a strong opinion and expresses it impressively.
- If your essay is devoted to public opinion, you’ll have to interview many people. On contrary, if it represents a particular view of a random person, you will choose only one person to interview.
- Research the subject of an interview and prepare your questions
To write a good essay, you have to conduct a good interview. In turn, a good interview is impossible without a proper understanding of the subject and preparation. Study your subject, its history,and most important issues. You have to collect enough information to write a list of interesting and relevant questions.
- Read sources devoted to your subject and any available printed materials. The more you know about it, the more interesting and specific questions you can ask.
- Look up some existing interviews about this subject, This will allow you to determine what questions are the most important, as well as figure out what unique questions you can ask and what questions may be too banal.
- Some questions may be answered with either “yes” or “no”. Such questions are good to clarify some crucial and specific details. On the other hand, open questions which imply a detailed answer can help you gather additional data.
- Draft a list of questions that will serve as a blueprint for your interview. We suggest preparing more questions so you’ll be able to select the most appropriate ones during the interview. You don’t know what an interviewed person will be focused on – it may be a topic that you considered a side subject. Sort your questions by importance or in the order that you plan to ask them. Highlight the most important questions.
- Arrange the interview
First of all, you have to contact your interviewee to define a place and time to meet. Don’t forget to get a necessary permission for recording answers or making photos. Always explain who you are and why you’re interested in interviewing this particular person.
- Find a quiet place. It may be a restaurant, a library, or a quiet location, for example, in some park.
- The interviewee must express his or her consent regarding the use of the recorded material. According to the law, you have to get a written permission to record an interview.
- If the person you wanted to interview can’t meet with you or is just not interested in the interview, you must have your plan B that implies another person familiar with the subject.
- Once you’ve arranged the interview, make sure to get there on time.
- Conduct the interview
Even if you record the interview on a phone or a voice recorder, take notes. It will help you remember some points that appear to be especially interesting or important.
- Use a recording device that will help you clarify the context of some noted phrases during the writing process.
- Be respectful and wait for your interviewee’s responses with patience. The interviewed person must have time to think and figure out answers. Create a relaxed environment for the conversation. Remember that it’s better to get a few accurate and meaningful responses than many answers given in a hurry.
- Right after you’ve finished interviewing someone, jot down your fresh impressions and thoughts. You will need these notes while writing an essay.
- At the end of the interview, thank your interviewee.
- Determine the format of your essay
Usually, if you get an essay assigned, you will be given instructions on the essay format. Talk to your instructor to clarify all the necessary details, such as the expected questions or answers, the use of paraphrasing, the context, and the format of quotes. Generally, there are three most common interview types:
- It’s an informal format which allows you to use the first and the second person. It fits a wide range of essays, including magazine articles and college assignments.
- Narrative interview essays are formal, and it’s the most common type of college assignments. Some answers may be paraphrased. This format also allows you to provide background information.
- Question – answer. Essays of this type consist only of direct quotes. It looks like a list of questions and answers written in a form of a dialogue. However, you can add some comments in parentheses. This format fits essays that include only one interviewee or a group of closely related people, such as a cast ofa movie or spouses.
- Draw up an outline
Your outline may vary depending on the essay type. However, it must include an introduction that describes your subject and the purpose of the interview.
- Listen to your recordings and read your notes. You have to consider both the most substantial parts of the interview and themes that you marked as important while talking to a person. This information will help you define what you’re going to write and in what order you should place questions and answers.
- Your outline may be a basis for the introduction. Start it with an anecdote or interesting fact about the interviewee. After that, familiarize your readers with main points and write your thesis statement. You have to support your thesis with several facts, and summarize the presented material in the conclusion. Most of thecollege essays imply a five-paragraph structure (introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion), and you can use this structure for your interview essay as well.
- Evolve your thesis statement
If your essay is aimed to only introduce your readers to a person, the thesis statement may be a concise summary of his or her background, qualifications, and achievements.
If the interview is used in your essay to support a certain position or provide an opinion on some broad issue, the thesis statement may formulate this position, mentioning the interviewee in the context of the considered issue.
No matter what format you choose, remember that your thesis statement must be clear and coherent. Make sure that other parts of the essay refer to your thesis statement.
- Complete your essay
The body of the essay must be tied to your thesis statement and cover the interview in details.
- Interviews often contain many repetitive phrases, even if you prepare good questions. You have to polish your essay and remove all unnecessary elements. You have to keep only information that corresponds to the idea of your essay and focuses on the subject.
- You can find many useful materials on interview essays on the internet. Visit websites of prestigious universities and read articles. For example, University of North Carolina Writing Center website contains many tips on how to get rid of similar phrases, and how to use transcriptions. You will also learn how to consider the interview in a global context by using paraphrasing. You can also find some detailed instructions on how to transfer personal experience.
- Proofread your writings
Never forget to revise and proofread your work, regardless of its type.
- Obviously, you must read your essay a few times. But you also have to find somebody else who will look it over. Sometimes you may miss something in your own work, so others will help you by providing a new perspective.
- Return to your notes that you’ve taken right after the interview and look whether your essay still represents the actual interview. While editing, you may change your essay considerably, so make sure that the initial intention remained the same. If you can, meet the interviewee and let him or her read your essay to understand whether it reflects their opinion correctly.
- Specify your sources
Usually, you don’t need to include the specific citation of the entire interview, but you must cite any additional materials used to collect data. We also suggest referring contextual information according to the required citation format.
Remember that all direct quotations must be written in quotation marks, while paraphrasing shouldn’t include them.
Finally, the last and the most important rule is that you shouldn’t present your own thoughts as someone else’s words. Respect interviewee’s opinion, and you’ll write a perfect interview essay!