If you’re hoping to break through into a career in journalism or writing, there are some essential skills that you’ll need to be able to develop and highlight.
One important thing that you’ll need to do is to be able to write an interview paper and doing it in the right way is crucial to advancing your career choice.
But it’s not like writing a book or writing an article. An interview paper has a different format and different requirements. So, how do you do it?
This guide will explore all of the facets of writing an interview paper, along with some helpful tips and good to know pieces of information.
Table of Contents
What Do We Mean By An Interview Paper?
Interview papers are a way to show the reader a much more in depth overview of a particular subject. It can give the reader a better understanding of what your interviewees have provided to you, using your skills in analysis.
You can think of an interview paper as a kind of essay, but it’s not exactly the same. It includes the information that you have obtained from your interviewees but it is set out and presented in a much more readable and easy to understand format.
The idea is, you have asked extensive questions using open questioning techniques and allowed your interviewees to give you rich data which you must now interpret and present – but it’s the way you use this data and then present it that comes under the guise of importance.
This is normally more often the case where you have interviewed experts on very complex subjects and need to create a paper that can be for the general reader.
Let’s say you have interviewed a immunologist on the dangers of viruses – you would need to use their answers which not only stays honest to their content, but also makes it simple for others to understand, who might not be in that field.
This can often be a difficult task, particularly when you have little understanding of what they’re discussing. This is when you use your interview skills to try and simplify their rich data.
The best way to present your paper is to allow the reader to be in conversation with the interviewee. In other words, the way you’ve written the paper allows a connection between the reader and the subject but you are the bridge that links the two.
Preparation When Writing An Interview Paper
As with any area of a good career, and in life, preparation is incredibly important. You need to not only make sure that you’ve fully grasped the rationale and purpose of the subject matter, but you’ve sourced the ideal interviewees.
The best way to prepare therefore, is to follow these steps below:
What Is The Purpose Of This Paper?
The entire rationale and purpose of the paper you’re planning to write will shape everything else in the next steps. For example, you might choose to write about the medical profession or a technical profession topic. In this instance, your interviewees must be professionals.
Expert knowledge when it comes to this level of a complex subject is crucial and it will change the way you plan to use their data when it is provided. However, you might choose a different purpose.
Let’s say you’re deciding to write on a topic of public interest. Due to the subjectivity of the topic, you will need to have multiple sources and therefore multiple interviewees.
When it comes to right and wrong answers such as mathematics, you don’t necessarily need to have more than one interviewee.
Perhaps you’re going for a more common tone. If the purpose is to discuss an opinion, you’d need to have multiple perspectives too but they would have to be from figures with some sort of credence, as opposed to regular people on the street.
Of course, this purpose will be shifted depending on the direction you’re choosing. You might be aiming for an informative paper, you don’t necessarily need to find a subject that aims to teach. Whereas, if you’re looking at an educational piece – you would.
That would in turn, alter your choices of interviewees and overall direction.
Before you get to your line of questioning, it’s important that you know what you’re talking about. It becomes obvious if an interviewer has not done their research and can often become embarrassing.
Moreover, the less you know about your subject, the more difficult you will find it is to present your findings and data to the general reader – and likely, you’ll interpret the data incorrectly and risk misquoting an expert.
When you’re doing your research, think about areas that you’re not quite sure about or areas that you’re not familiar with. The likelihood is, many people will be in the same position. You’ll want to grab your audience’s attention with the right line of questioning.
Creating Your Questions
Speaking of questioning, an interview is not an interview without them. The most important element of questioning during an interview, particularly when it comes to complex subject matters, is creating the right questions.
They have to be powerful and they need to have a point. A good interviewer will be able to assess the gaps that the reader will want to know more about
Remember though, there are two types of questioning techniques which are direct (closed) and indirect (open). These both have their advantages and disadvantages but open questions are the best way to get in depth and rich data.
However, there may come a time during the interview that you must ask a direct question to get a direct answer – this is often the case with politicians, for example.
Always ensure that you’ve developed your questions with many more than you might use. With open questioning, the interviewee might inadvertently answer several questions at once, so the need for more questions is crucial.
You should have thought beforehand about the people you plan to interview and it is wise to have a fall back plan in case the interviewee cannot make it. Great contact and communication is the foundation of a great relationship and tends to lead to a great interview.
You should prepare extensively for the interview with a location agreed, tools at the ready such as recording equipment and your questions to hand. Remember, always ask if you can record the interview and whether you can use their full name.
Make sure you listen carefully to the answers and clarify anything you don’t understand to try and curtail any possibility of misunderstanding and misquoting.
Writing The Paper
Writing a great interview paper will have a stable structure and will differ depending on which direction you’re planning to go with it.
If you’re going for a narrative, you’ll write the paper in a more “story” style, which communicates the interviewee or your point of view. However, you could opt for a question/answer or personal interview format.
These will have an almost list-style format but the personal interview format will also include your tone which develops on the answers.
When writing your paper, you’ll want to have a strong introduction that explains your rationale and what the reader is about to go through. Once you’ve grabbed their attention, you can move onto the body of the paper.
Slowly develop the context of the paper, whilst communicating directly to your audience. It’s important that the reader feels included in your writing. Always include facts with any opinion so you’re not providing misinformation.
The important thing to remember is to stay true to the context that the interviewee has said whilst tailoring the paper in a language that the reader can understand.
Weaving in your personality through your writing whilst keeping to the subject matter is a great interview paper.
Before you submit your paper though, ensure you’ve proofread it and cited any references you may have included to prevent plagiarism.
Writing a great interview paper can be the difference between making it in certain career paths or not. It can also develop your skills in later life. Following these tips should give you the best chance of creating and drafting a top interview paper.