Writing Interview Questions

Lesson Seventeen

In order to write an interesting story for the yearbook, you will need a quality interview. Use the tips below to formulate questions that will prompt your interviewee to tell a good story.

  1. Cover the basics. The first thing you’ll want to do is ask for the facts: who, what, when, where, why, and how.  This information is necessary so the reader has context for the story.  
  2. Be clear and concise. It is important to ask questions that the interviewee understands.  Don’t be wordy or use jargon that the interviewer may not know.  Also, make sure your question isn’t so long that your interviewee loses track of what you are asking.  
  3. Ask open-ended questions.  Open-ended questions will provide you with more detailed information and a better story. For example, instead of asking “Do you think the basketball team did well this year?” (to which the answer is “yes” or “no”), ask them to describe the shining moment of the basketball team this year.
  4. Ask for more than just the facts. You definitely want to have the basics, but the story will only be interesting if you ask them to give the details. For example, you may ask the lead in the school play to describe her feelings when she was about to go on stage or the atmosphere of the theatre when the cast was taking a final bow.
  5. Be specific.  If you ask general questions, you will get general answers. Instead of asking “how did you like prom this year?”, ask “what is one memory you will never forget from prom this year?”.

Activity

Now it’s time to practice! Rewrite these mediocre and poorly written interview questions using the tips above.

  1. What was the science fair like?
  2. Is marching band challenging?
  3. Was the national chess club competition a time of disquietude and apprehension, or did the event result in feelings of elation and enthusiasm?
  4. Was your community service project fun?
  5. What was your favorite part of the school year?
  6. Regardless of whether you were to win first place at the talent show or not, would you have or have not been happy with your performance?
  7. Describe your class trip to the art museum.
  8. Did you enjoy the homecoming dance?
  9. Do you think the three pointer that you scored in the second quarter of the homecoming basketball game was due to your team’s ability to create an effective defense against your rival, or do you think the positive score was the result of the team’s cohesiveness after their previously poor performance in the game against the Bluejays?
  10. How was the carnival night?