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How to conduct an interview.

Interviews bring more than information to a story, report, or essay. Quotes from people involved in your research topic add energy and authority to your writing. Including live voices and fresh opinions can turn a boring essay into a compelling read.

What's it like when a parent runs for President? Scholastic kid reporters used these tips when they interviewed the candidates' kids.

* Organization and preparation are essential to conducting a good interview. Identify the people you want to interview. Contact them to set up interviews, making sure you clearly identify yourself and your purpose. Be sure to set a certain time limit on each interview. Thirty minutes to an hour is usually enough time.

* Research your subject before the interview. You need to know as much as possible about your topic and the person with whom you will speak before conducting the interview. You can do preliminary research online and in the library. Be specific about what information you are hoping to gather.

* Compile a list of questions beforehand. Base your interview on your research. What do you want to know that this person can tell you? Keep your questions short and focused. Avoid questions that can be answered simply yes or no.

* Greet the person you are interviewing, and thank him or her for taking time to talk to you. Be sure to speak clearly and make eye contact with the person you are interviewing. Treat the interview like a conversation, not a formal question-and-answer session. Start by asking permission to tape-record the interview, and make some small talk to help you both relax.

* Listen to the answers! Pay attention to what the person is saying. You will need to ask follow-up questions. Be sure to make the person explain things you don't understand. Feel free to go beyond the questions you prepared in advance. Use those as a guide, but add to them as the interview goes along. Your last question should always be: "Is there anything that you would like to add?"

* At the end, thank the interviewee again for his or her time. Be sure to check the correct spelling of the person's name, his or her job title or occupation, and age.

* You should now be ready to write your story. For a profile, start with the most interesting thing you learned about your interviewee. Follow the lead paragraph with a quote from the individual.

The third paragraph is your "nut graph," or the paragraph that contains the who, what, when, where, and why. Here is where you can include the person's job title, age, and the reason for the interview.

Follow with another quote relating to the main topic of the article. The rest of the story should flow from there. You may wish to end with a quote--something the interviewee says that sums up the topic.

JS Student Reporter Evelyn Velez followed these tips to interview Care Edwards, whose father is running for President. Read Evelyn's interview and finished story on page 7.
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Title Annotation:Skills
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Feb 9, 2004
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