7 Steps to Conducting a Research Interview: Tips for Students

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Do you have to conduct an interview for a class paper or project? If it’s something you have never done before, the process can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow these seven steps to make the process as easy as possible.

1. Preparation

Be fully prepared prior to the interview. Be knowledgeable about the topic to be discussed. Research prior to the interview by visiting the interviewee ahead of time. If there are websites or books about the person or company, read them to gain information. Make notes when researching the topic that can later be used to form questions asked during the interview.

2. Form Questions

Create questions to ask before the interview begins. Prepare more questions than you expect to ask in case the interview lasts longer or the questions are answered faster than first thought. Over preparation is better than no preparation.

3. Show Courtesy

Be courteous. Remember that the interviewee is giving time out of their schedule to help with research. For this reason, he or she deserves to be shown respect. This includes arriving on time for the interview, politely greeting the interviewee and introducing yourself. It is also important to dress appropriately.

4. Tape the Interview

Before the interview begins, ask the interviewee if the session can be recorded. A tape recording of the session is very helpful to listen to while writing out the results of the interview. Whether or not a recording is made, take notes on a note pad during the interview.

5. Confirm and Clarify

Clarify details during the interview. This includes the spelling of names, places, dates, and times. For any topic discussed during the interview, clarification to ensure accuracy is important.

6. Ending the Interview

End the session on good terms. This is very important because if there are further questions that need to be asked, a positive relationship will need to be kept. The interviewee should be thanked for their time and information.

7. Research Information

Transcribe the interview immediately to keep the information as accurate as possible. It is important to do it as soon as possible while the facts remain fresh in memory.

Relax, have fun and enjoy talking to your interviewee!


  • “The Everything to Improve your Writing Book” By Pamela Rice Hahn 2008, Adams Media. Avon, Massachusetts