How Do You Write an Interview Paper? 7 Best Tips

How to Write an Interview Essay

Have you ever listened to someone’s story and thought, “This should be shared with the world”? That’s where the magic of your essay comes into play.  An interview essay is a unique form of writing that combines elements of narrative storytelling with the in-depth, personal aspects of an interview. 

Think about the last time you were engrossed in a conversation that made you lose track of time. An interview essay allows you to recreate that experience for your readers. It’s about making them feel like they are right there with you, sitting across from the interviewee, hanging onto every word. 

This guide provides a comprehensive look on how to write an interview essay, offering insight into its purpose, structure, and execution.

What is an Interview Essay?

An interview essay is a unique form of writing that turns a conversation into a compelling narrative, capturing not just the factual content of an interview but also the emotional depth and personal insights of the interviewee. It goes beyond mere reporting, offering readers an engaging, personal view of the subject’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings. 

This type of essay can vary in structure, from a personal narrative storytelling approach to a more formal question-and-answer format, allowing the writer’s voice to intermingle with the interviewee’s, and creating a vivid, relatable story that resonates with readers.

Purpose of Writing an Interview Paper

Primarily, it provides a deeper, more personal understanding of the interviewee’s experiences, perspectives, and opinions, which might not be as effectively conveyed through other forms of writing. This type of essay gives the reader insights into the subject’s thoughts and feelings more vividly than a simple report or narrative. It also offers a platform for the interviewee to share their stories, experiences, and wisdom, which can be particularly valuable in fields like journalism, education, and research.

Moreover, an interview essay enables the writer to explore and present complex research topics through the lens of personal experience, making the content more accessible and relatable to the audience. It’s an effective way to humanize subjects that might otherwise seem distant or abstract. This essay can highlight diverse viewpoints and experiences, contributing to a broader understanding of a topic or issue.

In an academic or professional context, interview essays can be used to demonstrate the writer’s ability to engage with others, write research papers or essays, and present information in a clear and compelling manner. For students and professionals alike, crafting an interview essay is an exercise in empathy, active listening, and storytelling, invaluable skills in many work and study areas.

Format for Writing an Interview Essay (3 Basic Types)

The format for writing an interview essay can be varied, but it follows one of three main structures:

Narrative Essay Interview

In a narrative format, the writer crafts a story-like essay incorporating the interviewee’s responses into a flowing narrative. This format emphasizes storytelling, focusing on the interviewee’s experiences, emotions, and perspectives.

The writer often interjects their own reflections, observations, and commentary, creating a more immersive and engaging experience for the reader. This approach is ideal for conveying personal stories providing depth and emotional context to the interviewee’s responses.

Personal Interview

A personal interview format concerns the interviewee’s experiences, opinions, and personal insights. Here, the writer focuses on capturing the essence of the interviewee’s personality, thoughts, and feelings, often delving into their personal journey or experiences.

The conversation tends to be more informal and intimate, allowing interviewees to express themselves freely. This format is particularly effective for profiles, biographical essays, or when exploring deeply personal topics.

Question-answer Interview

The question-answer interview format is the most straightforward. It involves presenting the interview in a direct question-and-answer style, where the interviewer’s questions and the interviewee’s responses are laid out sequentially. This format maintains the original structure of the interview, providing clarity and a straightforward account of the conversation.

It is especially suitable for formal interviews, technical subjects, or situations where the focus is more on the information being conveyed rather than the narrative or personal aspects of the interview.

How to Write an Outline for Interview Essays

Writing an outline for interview essays is crucial for organizing your thoughts and ensuring a coherent structure. When you interview someone, this structure provides a clear and effective framework for writing a good interview essay:


Introducing the Interviewee: Begin by introducing the person or people you interviewed. Provide some background information about them that is relevant to the topic of your essay.

Thesis Statement: Clearly state your paper’s main argument or the primary theme you are exploring through the interview. Writing a thesis statement guides the entire essay, indicating the central focus of your exploration.

Body Paragraphs

Subjective Viewpoints: In these paragraphs, delve into the subjective perspectives provided by your interviewees. Each body paragraph in your essay should ideally focus on a different aspect or theme related to your main thesis. Ensure that you accurately represent the viewpoints of your interviewees, and where appropriate, offer your analysis or context to their responses.

Supporting Information: Use quotes, anecdotes, and examples from the interview to support the points being made. This helps provide concrete evidence for the subjective viewpoints and makes the essay more engaging and credible.


Restate the Purpose: Begin your conclusion by restating the main goal or thesis of your essay. This reminds readers of the primary focus of your discussion.

Summarize Key Points: Briefly summarize the most important points or insights from the interviews. Highlight how these points support or elaborate on your thesis.

Final Thoughts: Conclude with your reflections or final thoughts about the interview process, the insights gained, and the implications of these insights. This might include how the interview changed your perspective, reinforced your thesis, or opened up new areas for exploration.

How to Write an Interview Essay

Writing an interview paper involves several key steps, each crucial for creating a compelling and insightful piece. Here’s a guide to help you through the process:

Defining the Purpose of Your Essay

Have a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve with your essay. This purpose will act as a guiding beacon throughout the process. Whether you’re delving into a specific topic, exploring an individual’s experiences, or uncovering new perspectives on an issue, having a clear objective helps form a cohesive narrative.

It shapes the questions you’ll ask and how you interpret the answers. This clarity of purpose ensures that your essay remains focused and relevant, giving readers a well-defined journey through the narrative outline.

Researching Your Subject

A crucial step in preparing for an interview paper is researching your subject. This research might involve delving into the background, accomplishments, and previous statements or writings of the person you are interviewing. For topics or issues, this means understanding the broader context and various viewpoints.

This preparation not only aids in formulating insightful questions but also helps understand and interpret the interview responses. Moreover, it allows you to build a rapport with the interviewee, as being well-informed shows respect for their time and expertise.

Preparing Your Questions

Crafting the right set of questions is pivotal in an interview paper. These questions should be open-ended, encouraging your interviewee to provide detailed and thoughtful responses. While your questions should be structured enough to keep the conversation on track, they should also leave room for unexpected insights and directions.

The balance between being prepared and adaptable is key; it allows for a natural flow of conversation while ensuring that all relevant topics are covered. Remember, the quality of your questions directly influences the depth and value of the information you gather.

Conducting the Interview

The interview is where you gather the raw material for your essay, and its execution is as important as its planning. Setting a comfortable environment for your interviewee is crucial, as it encourages openness and authenticity in their responses.

During the interview, active listening is vital; it not only ensures that you don’t miss out on important details but also helps ask follow-up questions that delve deeper into the subject. If possible, recording the interview (with permission) can be invaluable, as it allows you to revisit and analyze the conversation in detail later.

Organizing Your Findings

After conducting the interview, the next step is to organize and synthesize your findings. Review your notes and recordings, identifying key themes, insights, and particularly impactful quotes. This process involves filtering through the information to find what is most relevant and compelling in relation to your essay’s purpose.

Organizing your data thematically or in a logical sequence helps in constructing a clear and engaging narrative. This stage is crucial for setting the foundation of your essay, allowing you to build a story that is both informative and captivating.

Drafting the Essay

With your material organized, begin drafting your essay. The essay introduction should set the stage, providing context and introducing the interviewee while stating the purpose. In the body, integrate the interviewee’s responses into your narrative. Use direct quotes for impact, but don’t avoid paraphrasing for clarity.

The organization of the body can be chronological, thematic, or based on the importance of the points, depending on what best suits your story. It’s important to interweave your own reflections or analysis, giving depth to the interviewee’s responses and offering your perspective.

Citing Your Sources

An important aspect of writing an interview paper, especially if it involves additional research, is properly citing sources. This is crucial for lending credibility to your essay and avoiding plagiarism issues.

It also allows interested readers to explore the topic further. Ensure that any external sources you refer to are appropriately cited, following the required in-text citation style guide. This adds a layer of professionalism to your work and respects the intellectual property of others.

Revising and Editing

Once your first draft is complete, revising and editing are crucial next steps. This is where you refine your essay, enhancing clarity, coherence, and overall impact. It involves checking for grammatical errors, ensuring a logical flow of ideas, and ensuring the essay effectively communicates your intended message.

It’s often helpful to step away from your work for a while before revising, as this can provide you with fresh perspectives on your writing. Additionally, getting feedback from others can offer invaluable insights.

Concluding Your Essay

The conclusion of your interview paper is where you tie all the threads together. It’s a chance to summarize the main insights or themes of the conversation, reflecting on how they relate to your initial purpose.

This is also the place to restate your thesis, now informed by the contents of the interview, and to provide a final thought or reflection. A strong conclusion leaves a lasting impression on the reader, offering closure to the narrative and potentially opening new avenues of thought or inquiry regarding the subject.

Guidelines for Conducting an Interview

Conducting an interview requires careful preparation and a thoughtful approach to ensure it is both productive and respectful. Here are some guidelines to help you conduct an effective interview:

  • Preparation is Key: Before the interview, thoroughly research the topic and your interviewee. This knowledge helps formulate relevant and insightful questions and shows respect for your interviewee’s time and expertise.
  • Develop a Structured Question List: Prepare a list of questions in advance. These should be open-ended in first and second person to encourage detailed responses and cover various aspects of the topic. However, remain flexible as the conversation might lead to unexpected but valuable insights.
  • Establish a Comfortable Environment: Choose a quiet place, or private interview setting to ensure you and the interviewee can speak freely without interruptions. Creating a comfortable atmosphere will encourage more open and honest responses.
  • Start with Light Conversation:Begin with some light, general conversation to put your interviewee at ease. This can also help establish rapport before diving into more in-depth topics.
  • Practice Active Listening: As the interviewer, be an active listener and take notes. This means being fully engaged, showing interest, and responding appropriately to what the interviewee says. It not only helps in understanding their perspective but also fosters a respectful and productive dialogue.
  • Follow Up with Probing Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask follow-up questions if you need more clarity or wish to explore a topic further. Probing questions can uncover deeper insights and perspectives.
  • Be Respectful of Time and Boundaries: Stick to the agreed-upon time for the interview and be mindful of the interviewee’s comfort level. If a question seems to cause discomfort, it’s important to respect their boundaries and move on.
  • Record the Interview (with Written Permission): Recording the interview can be helpful for accuracy when quoting and referencing. Always seek permission to record the interview, and respect the interviewee’s wishes if they decline.
  • End with Gratitude: Always conclude the interview by thanking the interviewee for their time and insights. Showing appreciation is not only polite but also helps maintain a positive relationship.
  • Follow-up: Consider sending a thank-you note or email after the interview. If the interview is going to be published or used publicly, you might want to share the finished product or a summary with the interviewee.

Example Questions to Ask an Interview Subject

When preparing an interview subject, it’s important to tailor them to the specific individual and the topic of discussion. However, here are some general examples of interview questions that can be adapted to various contexts:

Background and Experience

  • “Can you tell me about your background and how you got started in your field?”
  • “What experiences have been most influential in shaping your career or perspective?”

Challenges and Achievements

  • “What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced, and how did you overcome them?”
  • “Can you share a particularly rewarding or significant achievement in your career?”

Opinions and Insights

  • “How do you view the current trends or changes in your field?”
  • “What are some misconceptions people might have about your work or industry?”

Personal Perspectives

  • “What drives or motivates you in your work?”
  • “How do you balance your professional and personal responsibilities?”

Future Outlook

  • “Where do you see the industry or field heading in the next few years?”
  • “What are your personal or professional goals for the future?”

Advice and Reflections

  • “What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this field?”
  • “Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently in your career?”

Interview Essay Writing Examples

Interview essays blend the personal insights from interviews with a narrative style. They offer readers a glimpse into the interview subject’s experiences, thoughts, and emotions, often revealing deeper truths and understandings about a particular topic.

These examples demonstrate how interviews can be transformed into engaging and informative essay narratives, showcasing different approaches and styles in interview essay writing.

Example 1

Title: The Heartbeat of Compassion: An Interview with Nurse Emily Thompson

In the busy hallways of City Hospital's intensive care unit, Nurse Emily Thompson moves with a purpose refined over two decades of compassionate service. Her warm smile and attentive eyes embody the spirit and resilience that define the nursing profession.

As we sit in the hospital’s small, sunlit cafeteria, Emily shares her journey. "I was drawn to nursing during my teenage years after volunteering at a local care home," she recalls. "The connection with people, understanding their stories, and being there in their moments of vulnerability – it all made me realize this was my calling."

The challenges of nursing are not lost on her. She speaks candidly about the emotional toll of working in high-stress environments, especially in intensive care. "There are days that test your strength," she admits. "But it's the small victories, a patient's smile, or a thank you from a family, that remind you of the impact you're making."

Emily's dedication to patient care is evident when she recounts the story of a young boy who came into the ICU after a severe accident. "His recovery was tough, and we weren't sure if he'd make it," she says, her voice tinged with emotion. "But we never gave up. Seeing him walk out of the hospital with his parents – that moment was indescribable."

Despite the challenges, Emily remains optimistic about the future of nursing. "It's an evolving field," she says. "The advancements in technology and medicine are incredible, but at the end of the day, it’s about human connection. That's the heart of nursing."

As our conversation ends, Emily's pager beeps – a reminder of the relentless pace of her profession. She stands up, ready to dive back into her world of caring and healing. Her story is a testament to the resilience, dedication, and compassion nurses bring to their patients daily.

Example 2

Title: Innovating Care: A Dialogue with Nurse Innovator, Dr. Laura Hernandez

Dr. Laura Hernandez, a nurse researcher and innovator at the forefront of healthcare technology, sits across from me in her office, surrounded by stacks of medical journals and prototypes of nursing tools. With a career spanning over fifteen years, she's not just a nurse; she's a pioneer in reshaping patient care through innovation.

As we begin our conversation, Dr. Hernandez reflects on her early years in nursing. "I was always fascinated by the potential of technology in enhancing patient care. My journey in nursing began at the bedside, but I quickly realized my passion lay in bridging the gap between nursing and technology," she explains.

Discussing the challenges in her field, she emphasizes the importance of adaptable solutions in nursing. "Nursing is dynamic. What works today might not be effective tomorrow. My goal has always been to develop tools and methods that are flexible and can evolve with the changing healthcare landscape," she asserts.

One of her notable contributions is a mobile app that helps nurses manage patient care more efficiently. "I noticed how much time nurses spent on administrative tasks. This app was designed to streamline those processes, allowing nurses to spend more time with their patients," she proudly shares.

Dr. Hernandez is also deeply involved in educating the next generation of nurses. "It's crucial that we integrate technology into nursing education. I work with nursing schools to develop curricula that include digital literacy, ensuring our future nurses are equipped for the modern healthcare environment," she states.

As we conclude, Dr. Hernandez offers advice to aspiring nurse innovators. "Stay curious, and don't be afraid to venture into the unknown. Nursing is a field ripe for innovation, and your ideas could transform patient care."

Returning to her work, Dr. Hernandez embodies the spirit of innovation in nursing. Her contributions highlight the vital role nurses play not just in patient care but in shaping the future of healthcare.

Conclusion on Interview Paper Writing

Writing an interview essay is a delicate balance of preparation, engagement, and storytelling. The interview process requires empathy, active listening, and adaptability, capturing the depth of the subject’s experiences and viewpoints. Whether in a narrative, thematic, or question-answer format, the final write-up must weave these elements into a cohesive and engaging narrative. 

This form of essay goes beyond mere reporting, offering readers a deeper, more personal insight into the interviewee’s world, and in doing so, it not only informs but also connects us to human experiences and perspectives. An interview essay is not just a document; it’s a bridge between the subject’s experiences and the reader’s understanding, enriching our collective knowledge and empathy.

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