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Interviewing practice


This lesson reinforces the basic interviewing process. It may be used as a routine assignment for advanced or honors students on any interviewing assignment.  It can also be used for students who need additional practice after the Basic Interviewing lesson. Students will conduct basic research and develop questions for a one-on-one interview. Students will take notes and transcribe their interview in preparation for publication. This lesson may be extended into a feature-writing assignment or for an alternative format such as a profile box or used as part of a video feature.


  • Students will find a source with a potential story angle to interview.
  • Students will develop a list of questions that cover the who, what, when, where, why and how of the story.
  • Students will conduct an interview using a combination of prepared questions with follow-up questions while listening with interest and establishing a conversational tone.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.


Three mini-lessons or reflection/discussion time. Additional non-class time required to research, schedule, conduct and transcribe interview.


Reporter’s notebook

Audio recorder

Class set: Interview reflection

Interviewing rubric

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

1. Tap prior knowledge — 5 minutes

Ask students what they know about conducting an interview. Discuss the steps of the process: forming the initial idea, conducting research, developing questions, conducting the interview, transcribing quotes and key facts. Ask about their last interview session. What went well and what they would do differently during their next interview experience? Guide, review or reteach this process as necessary. (See Interviewing basics.)

2. Present and explain the assignment – 10 minutes

Explain to students that they will repeat the interview experience. One option is to require them to interview an adult (teacher, coach, expert on a topic they are writing about, parent, administrator). Students must identify their source, have a brief and casual conversation to develop a story angle, and then research and plan their interview.

Students need to set an appointment to hold a live, one-on-one interview.

3. Homework

Students must identify their source and have a brief conversation so that they have a story angle for the next day’s interview prep time. They should also set a time for a formal interview.

Day 2

1. Homework check and interview prep — 20-30 minutes

Check with each student or have them turn in an entrance card with the name of their source, date and time of their interview and the story angle. This can serve as a daily grade.

Allow students time to conduct further background research and prepare their interview questions. Students should prepare a list of interview questions that explore the who, what, where, when, why and how of the potential story.

2. Homework

Pass out “Interview reflection” and go over “Interviewing rubric” on a slide or overhead projector. Allow time for questions and clarification. Students should conduct the interview within one week of being assigned this activity. The product to be graded is in two parts: transcribed notes with copy-ready quotes and “Interview reflection.”

Day 3

1. Follow up — class period one week later

At the end of the one-week deadline, collect the notes and reflections. Allow time for students to discuss their interviewing experience. Grade using “Interview rubric.”

Optional assignment

This assignment may be extended into a writing or video assignment by requiring at least two additional supporting sources and/or b-roll or background video. Or, it may be used for a profile box, caption information or other alternative format as needed for the student publication or broadcast.


This is a follow-up assignment for students with some experience. As students gain more experience, the reflection can be used routinely or sporadically to check progress, with or without notes transcription.