How to Write a Report on an Interview

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At some point in your educational career, you will be asked to interview someone and write up the interview. Although writing up an interview may be daunting, by following some simple steps, the writing process does not have to be difficult.

1 Preparation

Preparation is one of the most important aspects of writing up an interview. Research the subject and use this information to write down questions you want to ask, but understand you probably will need to ask follow-up questions. Prepare for your interview ahead of time and tape your interview if possible, because you will not be able to write down everything your interviewee says. As soon as you complete the interview, write down your thoughts and notes from the interview while it is fresh in your mind. You may think you will remember all the details from the interview, but you won't. When you are ready to begin writing up the interview, use your tape recorder to help you.

2 Decide on the Format

When you are finished with your interview notes, you will need to decide on a format for your interview paper. First, you need to check with your professor to determine if he or she has a particular interview format in mind when the assignment was created. It may be that the professors in the department want students to stick to a particular format for interviewing, especially in graduate programs. If the professor has not specified a format, you can choose one of two formats -- the question & answer format or the narrative format.

3 Question and Answer Format

In the question and answer format, or Q&A, the author should begin with a paragraph about the interviewee as an introduction. The introduction also should include the location of the interview and the subject or main ideas of the interview -- or a sentence about the areas the report will cover. Then the interview itself will be written out. Usually, two initials are used for the author, and two for the interviewee after the first question and answer. The initials of the person speaking are written, followed by what the person says. Quotation marks are not used in this format. A brief concluding paragraph is sometimes used to wrap things up at the end of the report, but it is not always necessary. The question and answer format is a good format to use if your subject was talkative and you have a lot of good quotes to use.

4 Narrative Format

If you have an interviewee who is not particularly talkative, or an interviewee who did not give a lot of particularly strong quotes, you are better off writing your interview paper using a narrative format rather than the question and answer format. In the narrative interview format, you can make good use of all of those notes you took before your interview, and after your interview was over to flesh out the report. In the first paragraph, much like the question and answer format, you will write a little about what the report is about, who the interviewee is, and where the interview took place. Then you will break up the actual interview into paragraphs, using the good quotes you do have to help you. A conclusion paragraph usually ends the narrative format. Unlike the question and answer format, you must use quotation marks for the narrative format.

Lori Garrett-Hatfield has a B.J. in Journalism from the University of Missouri. She has a Ph.D. in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. She has been working in the Education field since 1994, and has taught every grade level in the K-12 system, specializing in English education, and English as a Second Language education.