The Information Interview Essay

The Art of the Informational Interview Essay

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Sometimes, we just want to learn more about other people; we want to find out what makes them tick so-to-speak. We yearn to understand how they navigate this adventure we call life.  About the only way we can actually learn about others is through asking them questions. That’s what an Informational Interview does; you ask relevant questions and compile the answers into a form suitable for reading at one’s leisure in an Informational Interview Essay.

You need to consider two aspects of the Informational Interview Essay. Aside from the typical considerations that come with any form of essay writing, such as proper research, clarity of writing, revision, and such. One aspect to consider is your approach to “Conducting the Interview.” The second aspect for consideration is the actual “Questioning.” Let’s look at five vital points of each aspect:

Conducting the Interview

  1. First, plan your questions ahead of time. There’s nothing worse then going into an interview and trying to wing it. When you face the person, you may end up freezing, akin to going blank when it comes time to sitting down and writing that all-important exam. Therefore, carefully consider what questions you need to ask and write them all out. You feel more comfortable in an interview when organized and the person you’re interviewing will see you have the meeting under control.
  2. Go over your questions just before the scheduled time of your interview. This is to refresh your memory of what you will be asking. It’s a last minute check that your questions are appropriate and worded the way you wish to ask them.

    In addition, going over the questions “just before”, gets you in the right mindset for the interview. You may have had a hectic day prior to the interview and feel frazzled a bit. This review gives you time to settle down and focus on the interview at hand.

  3. Control the interview by following your question outline. You direct the course and flow of the dialogue when you do this. This ensures you ask all the questions you need to, and hopefully receive full answers to them. An outline of questions on paper lets the interview subject know that you have a purpose for, and are in charge of the interview. They typically will respect this and can even feel secure in the thought that this is a well-planned interview.
  4. Don’t be afraid to branch off into an interesting topic that you didn’t consider. The person you’re interviewing may direct the conversation along an intriguing side route. This route may be just as important as the questions you previously came up with during your planning sessions.

    However, don’t branch out and meander off into topics not relevant to your essay. People sometimes get very chatty as they get more comfortable. They may begin to discuss things that your readers will actually find boring. Therefore, get the interview back on track to the important questions.

  5. Take sufficient notes as you conduct the interview. Better yet, record the interview, but only if the person you’re interviewing gives you permission to do so. In this way, you can ask the questions from your list and then just listen to the answers. You can transcribe the interview later when you have the time.


  1. Ask questions that do not just elicit  “Yes” or “No” answers. This isn’t a courtroom drama. You want the person to open up enough to reveal excellent information that your readers will find useful and informative. Ask “Who,” “What,” “When,” “Where,” “Why,” and “How” questions.

    An example of one of these is, “What made you realize you had the talent to make it as an Engineer in the Aerospace industry?” A “Yes” or ‘No” answer to this question is an odd response. This question demands a more elaborate answer.

  2. Try to curtail long winded responses that reveal little or no information useful to your essay. Respectfully interject, when appropriate, and ask another question. Make sure this new question has a fine-tuned focus concentrating on one aspect of a topic. Structure this reformulated question so that it requires a precise, concise, and clear response.
  3. Ask about other people that you might be able to interview. If you have the time to conduct another interview, your current interview subject may know someone you can interview who will provide you with even more information. They may wish to promote the efforts of a colleague who is doing significant work in a particular field. They may be more than happy to direct you in that person’s direction. Your Informational Interview Essay will be richer for this opportunity. Again, this depends on whether you can schedule the time for an additional interview.
  4. It’s important not to ask questions that are too personal. Of course, you do want to capture the essence of the person and learn as much as you can about them during the course of your questioning. However, personal questions that have nothing to do with the focus of your essay are not suitable.   Some personal information is just that – “personal” for a reason – and this information should remain so. You run the risk of alienating your interview subject with questions of this sort.
  5. Ask about additional sources of information. The person you’re interviewing may know where you can find some truly special information. It may be a source that’s little known or something you haven’t even considered.

    They may recommend a book or a website where you can find rich information to help you write your essay. This can only help you present information that is even more significant to your readers.

Upon conducting your interview and asking the right questions in the right way, you carry on to write your essay. Exclude extraneous material that doesn’t truly highlight the essence of your subject. Avoid repeating information, where answers were pretty much the same for different questions. Present a well-rounded view of your interview subject to educate, enlighten, and entertain your readers.

Ask the questions that matter as you work at creating your Informational Interview Essay. Ask the questions that give you detailed information about a person and what they do. Ask the questions that help your readers understand the vision your interview subject has of their life – what they plan to do in the future. An Informational Interview Essay is your chance to reveal the uniqueness of your interview subject.