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The Interview Essay

July 22, 2015 - Posted to Study

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The Interview Essay

Students often think that interview essays might actually be assigned in a journalism class and that the essay will actually be in the form of a news article. Actually, there are many opportunities for an interview essay to be assigned, in many diverse courses, and it is highly likely that you will receive such a task at some point in your academic career.

The Journalistic Aspect of an Interview Essay

When reporters write basic news stories, they answer the questions “who, what, where, when, and why.” If you have ever watched a journalist interview someone on TV, however, you know that these are not the “burning” questions of the interview. For an interview there is far more preparation involved, and there will be for you too if you need to write an essay that summarizes an interview you conduct.

  1. You will need to research the background of the individual who will be the subject of your interview. For the journalist, this is relatively easy, for s/he will be interviewing someone who is prominent or who has been featured in the news recently. There will be background information readily available. For you, this activity will actually be quite different. For example, you may be conducting and interview with an elderly person who lived through the Great Depression in the United States, as an assignment for an U.S. history course. Your research will not include information about this person per se; it will be about the Great Depression, so that you have a solid understanding of the many facets of life during that period of time.
  2. Interview questions are usually prepared in advance. This is true for the journalist conducting an interview with a prominent personality and for you as well. You will need to develop a set of questions that will probe into this person’s experiences growing up during the Depression. They should be open-ended questions, so that the interviewee will have plenty of room to expand and expound. The more your interviewee talks, the more information you will have to craft your essay. So rather than ask questions like, “How old were you when the Stock Market crashed in 1929” or “Where did you live during the Depression,” you will want to ask questions like, “What did your parents do to keep your family fed, clothed, and housed during the Depression?” “What kinds of activities did children have for amusement or entertainment?” or “How did other relatives of your survive during this time?” “What were our fondest memories of those times? What were your worst memories of those times?” These types of questions will “leave the door open” for lots of expansion on the part of the interviewee.

The Similarities between an Interview Essay and a Journalistic Interview Article Continue

If you have ever read an article written of an interview with an ole person, for example, you will see the basic structure of an essay format.

  1. The article will begin with an introduction, just as your essay will.
  2. The article will move into the “meat” of the interview, much as the body of your essay will. Here, the topics that were covered will be categorized and each will be presented in a paragraph. Direct quotes from the interviewee will be added.
  3. The conclusion of the interview article and the interview essay will contain your response to having interviewed this person and the impressions s/he left upon you.

Courses in Which Interview Essays may be Assigned

The example above related to a history course; however, there are many courses in which this assignment may be given and you will not necessarily be writing an interview with an older person essay. In a sociology course, you may be required to conduct an interview with an inmate in a local jail; in a psychology course, you may be assigned an interview with a psychologist who works exclusively with mental health issues of children; in a political science course, you may be required to interview the local head of one of the political parties, or a local government official. In a music or art course, you might be interviewing a local artist or musician.

Putting it all together

If you have conducted an interview with someone, and you are struggling with organizing your essay, this is quite common. In cases like these, you can certainly get some expert assistance from a great writer at EssayWriting.education, and submit an interview essay that will truly shine!

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