write an interview essay

Paper #2


One way in which researchers gain information about a topic is to conduct interviews. People are usually willing to talk about their lives if they feel that the researcher will treat their information confidentially and ethically. Their comments can be a rich source of information about human development. You will be conducting two semi-structured interviews on the same topic to learn more about the selected topic and the process of data collection/analysis. Please review the potential topics and the associated questions listed below. Select only one topic. You will conduct two interviews (same topic), and use the information to write your paper. The specific requirements for the paper are outlined in the rubric. No interviewee names will be included in the papers.

Potential Topics


In what ways do you feel you have gained independence from your parents? What responsibilities go along with being independent? In what ways do your peers have more influence on your ideas, and in what ways do your parents have more influence? Do you feel that there is a generation gap between your parents and yourself? Have you thought of ways to reduce any differences while still developing your independence?

Drug Use and Health

Do you smoke? Do you drink alcohol? Do you use other drugs? Why or why not? If so, how much? Would you like to quit? Why or why not? Do you think much about the health hazards? What drug habits do people you know engage in? What are the reasons? What have been the results? What healthy activities do you engage in on a regular basis?

Moral Reasoning

What are the moral issues in your life today? How are you resolving them? How would you approach a moral dilemma, such as finding out that a good friend cheated on an important exam? Do you have a trusted person with whom you discuss moral issues? Who is it? What are the important moral issues facing our country?

Decision Making

What major decisions have you had to make in the past few years? How did you select your career or academic goals? What resources did you consult in making your decisions? In retrospect, did you make the right decisions? What would you change? What decisions are you facing now? Has your approach to decision making changed in the past few years?


  • Select a topic of interest (category) from the list.
  • Read the information about this topic in the textbook.
  • Select two people and ask if they would be willing to honestly discuss the category you have selected. Not all individuals will feel comfortable discussing all topics (categories). If one individual does not want to discuss your topic, ask another individual.
  • Explain that you are working on a project for your class and that all information will be confidential. Do not use names in your paper, and do not disclose information shared with others.
  • Begin the interview by telling the subject that you will be asking some questions, but he or she should feel free to expand on the topic or talk about related ideas. Set a definite schedule for the interview (30 minutes) and stay on that schedule. Take thorough notes.
  • If a subject’s answers are too brief or uninformative, follow up with questions like, “Why did you choose X?” or “Why do you think X happened?” If something the subject says seems important, follow up with additional probing questions, like “Tell me more about X.”
  • Remember, you are interested in your subject’s life and ideas. Do not involve yourself in a conversation, offer advice, or talk about your own experiences during the interview, except as a way of encouraging your interviewee to talk.

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