A few years ago we worked through the Cover Story writing curriculum for our writing lessons. One of the bigger projects was to conduct an interview, and I worked with the kids quite a bit on how to conduct an interview.
^^^^ Obviously not my ginormous kids, but one boy conducted his interview with his Dad (for like 2 hours). The other boy conducted his interview on a farm, and I just could not get a picture. Princess’ interview was at the aquarium, and it was all dark, so my one picture is horrid (you’ll see it down below).
(I might stick some affiliate links in here, we’ll see if I need them)
Why teach your kids how to conduct an interview
A lot of people complain homeschoolers don’t know how to interact with people. My experience has been quite the opposite, but it may be because we have assignments like this. I’ve worked with my kids quite a bit to talk with adults, and this was actually one of the projects.
Aside from learning how to interact with adults, it’s also helpful to just work on asking questions of another person and writing down notes, as well as following up with something mentioned that makes an interesting idea to pursue.
Before you interview, make a plan
All of our kids were interviewing people about their job. So, our first step was to research the jobs.
This prepared them to have better questions than:
“Why do you do that?”
Or something else equally generic.
Once they had an idea, they sat down and wrote out 10 questions.
Superman interviewed a policeman who had recently moved to a fraud division in our local department. He came up with some great questions:
- What is the most interesting case you’ve ever investigated?
- How do you solve crimes?
- Where did you go to school to become a police officer?
- What is a normal day like for you?
Superman spent two hours at breakfast talking with him, and Jeff came back raving about the whole experience, and how good Superman did asking questions. Of course, he did not get any pictures.
I don’t remember the theme for Batman’s magazine, but he interviewed a blacksmith. In all honesty, this was the least satisfying interview of all. We drove up to Waco, there’s a Christian commune that lives a “simple life” with many traditional crafts. While they are open to questions and want to talk, the particular person we talked to was not particularly interested in talking to us. He actually felt like he wanted to get rid of us.
So, I did not take any pictures of him.
Princess’ magazine was about dolphins, so we headed over to the local aquarium to interview one of the animal handlers.
Side note, my Cover Story Curriculum Review
Just to let you know, I did write an entire review of Cover Story, a bit ago. I highly recommend their curriculum. We’ve also used Byline (historical newspaper) and Princess is going to use One Year Adventure Novel next year as a freshman.
Putting together how to conduct an interview
After you’ve got your questions all written out, it’s now time to conduct your interview. Most likely, you, the parent, will need to set up the interview. If your kids are slightly older than mine were, like say 8th grade or older, setting up the interview is a great step on this.
This is my one picture from Princess’ interview. She did a great job asking her questions and following up on them.
When your child goes to the interview, you need a couple of things:
- clipboard– so you have a hard writing surface, I love this storage clipboard
- your questions written earlier
- plenty of paper
When it comes time to how to conduct an interview, here are the key points I emphasized to all of my kids:
- Speak loudly and clearly.
- Look the person in the eye.
- Give them time to answer the question.
- Be willing to change your questions if their answers are different
- Thank them for their time when you are done.
Princess got an amazing change to interview the keeper of the aquatic animals at Austin Aquarium. She learned all about how the manta rays train themselves to do tricks. They figured out if they flap their fins and splash water at people, they are given food.
That fascinated both of us.
We learned how she has to give the octopus stimulation because otherwise, it will “lose hope” and will not survive. Each day she has to give it different toys and think of different ways to interact with it. However, she can’t demand the octopus interact.
Princess took pages of notes. She wrote and wrote, and asked more questions. At the end, she thanked the lady for her time (shame on me for not writing down her name, so I can give her a name beyond “the lady”).
Shaping your interview into a story
At this point, I’m going to leave off giving you tips, because Cover Story did a great job of setting this all up.
This assignment took two weeks to complete, and by the end they had a 500 work article. They concentrated on the 5 Ws and an H, and using those to pull out an emotion.