University of Hawai'i Maui Community College Speech Department

Organizing an Interview

While every interview requires a somewhat different structure, certain principles and techniques are applicable to all.  Each interviewing schedule should have the following three major parts: (1) the opening; (2) the body; (3) the closing. 

The opening should always make the respondent/interviewee feel welcomed and relaxed.  In addition, the opening should clearly indicate the objectives of the interview and make it clear what topic areas will be addressed.  The interviewer should also provide some information to motivate the respondent to answer the questions.  Motivating the respondent might involve offering an incentive for participating or an explanation for how the information will be valuable to society.  Finally, the opening should indicate the expected length of the interview.

The body of the interview schedule always lists the topics to be covered and potential questions.  The number of questions and the exact wording of the questions depends on the type of interview schedule used.  The interview may be nonscheduled with only the topics and subtopics listed..  An nonscheduled interview generally leaves out potential probing questions to allow the interviewer to adapt to the interaction that unfolds.  The nonscheduled interview, however, requires a highly skilled interviewer, provides no means of recording answers and presents problems in controlling the time factor.  Beginning interviewers often rely on a moderately scheduled interview that contains major questions and possible probing questions under each.  This schedule still allows some freedom to probe into answers and adapt to the situation.  In addition this type of schedule aids in recording answers and is easier to conduct.  We will be using the moderately scheduled interview format for our in-class interview.

The closing should maintain the tone set throughout the interview and should be brief but not abrupt.  Interviewers should summarize the main issues discussed during the interview, discuss the next course of action to be taken, and thank the respondent for his or her time.

The following interview schedule is an example of what you will want to use for the moderately scheduled interview in class to interview your classmate.  Please allow space after each question to record responses and also include several open questions.  If you include only closed (one word response) questions you will have a very short interview.  Remember you want the interview to last at least 10 minutes.

Time Saving Suggestion -- You can get your own Interview Schedule in Word 97 format to use as a template and guide for your schedule:

Click here to download an Interview schedule template in Word 97.

Adobe PDF formatted file IconClick here to print an interview schedule with Adobe Acrobat

If you can't download the above template you could copy and past the following schedule into your word processor. You can do this by highlighting the entire schedule then hold down the 'Ctrl' key and hit the 'C' key to copy the highlighted text. Next you will open up a document in your word processor and put your cursor where you want it in the new document. Hold down the 'Ctrl' key and hit the 'V' key to paste the highlighted text into your new document. This is an excellent way to copy and paste text between and within applications in Microsoft Windows. The disadvantage with copying it this way versus downloading the template is that the justification and indentation will be incorrect using the copy and paste method from your browser to the word processor.
Sample Interview Schedule for Classmate:

I. Opening

   A. (Establish Rapport) [shake hands] My name is  ______________
        and as a member of the same Speech class, Ron thought it 
        would be a good idea to interview you, so that I can better inform 
        the rest of our class about you.

   B. (Purpose) I would like to ask you some questions about your 
        background, your education, some experiences you have had, and 
        some of your hobbies and interests  in order to learn more about 
        you and share this information with our class.

   C. (Motivation) I hope to use this information to help the class become 
        more comfortable speaking to and with you by knowing you better.

   D. (Time Line) The interview should take about 10 minutes.  Are you 
        available to respond to some questions at this time?

(Transition: Let me begin by asking you some questions about where you live and your family)
II Body

   A. (Topic) General demographic information

        1.  How long have you lived on Maui?  
(Question 1. did not have to be asked because this information is on the Bio-Sheet.  Don't wast your interviewee's time asking questions you already know or should know the anwers to.)

         a.   Are you originally from Maui?

         b.  I saw on your Bio-Sheet that you previously lived in Fiji. How 
              did you like living there?

      2.  What size is your immediately family?
       a.  How many siblings do you have?

       b.  Please describe your relationship with your family.

       c. What type of activities do you do with your family?

(Transition to the next topic: _______________________________)

   B. (Topic) Education

      1. Why did you MCC for your studies?

      2.  Why did you choose to Major in Human Services?  

         a.  How many classes have you taken in Human Services?

         b.  Would you recommend the Major?  If so Why?

         c.  Why did you change your Liberal Arts major to Human Services?

      3. Do you plan to pursue a career in Social Services?  

         a. If so, where?

         b. What area of services would you like to specialize?  Why?

        c. What type of people would you like to work with?  Why?

(Transition to the next topic: _______________________________)

   C. (Topic) Experiences

      1. You stated on your bio-sheet that you have had the opportunity to 
          do some public speaking. 
         a.  Where did you speak?

         b.  What was/were the occasion(s) that you presented?

         c. How do you think that your previous public speaking 
             experience(s) will help you in this class?

         d. On your bio-sheet you stated three of your goals for this class 
             this semester please elaborate on these?

         e. You stated on your bio-sheet that you could competently inform 
             our class about the types of events involved in a windsurf 
             competition and what it takes to win.  What topic will you speak 
             on for your informative speech?

      2. You listed on your Bio-Sheet that you sell real estate in your spare 
           time.  How do you think this class will help you become a better 
           real estate agent?

      3. You declared on your bio-sheet that you have traveled to Japan.
         a. Where did you travel in Japan?

         b. Describe your first impressions of Japanese culture.

         c. Do you speak Japanese?

         d. Would you recommend Japan to a fellow student as a travel 
             destination?  Why or Why not?

         e. What was your most enlightening experience in your travels to 


(Transition to the next topic: _______________________________)   

  D.  (Topic) Activities/Hobbies/Interests

    1. What campus and/or community activities are you involved in 
        besides the Human Services program?

    2. You listed on your Bio-Sheet that you love to windsurf and you 
        compete professionally.

       a. What do you like best about windsurfing?

       b. What was your most memorable windsurfing experience?

       c. Do you ever give windsurfing lessons?

       d. Where is your favorite place to windsurf?  Why? 

(Transition: Well, it has been a pleasure finding out more about you.  Let 
me briefly summarize the information that I have recorded during our interview.)

III Closing

   A. (Summarize) You are very involved in __________________  
        You plan to pursue a career in __________________.  Your 
         hobbies and interests are ____________.

   B. (Maintain Rapport) I appreciate the time you took for this interview. 
       Is there anything else you think would be helpful for me to know so 
       that I can successfully introduce you to our class?

   C. (Action to be taken) I should have all the information I need.
        Would it be alright to call you at home if I have any more questions?  
        I look forward to introducing you to the rest of our class.

If you have any further questions about the interview schedule that you will use for the In-Class interview of your classmate, please give me a call or send me an email -
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Page Designer: Ron St. John
Copyright 2002 - Ka Leo Kumu
Last Revised: January 16, 2002