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How to… conduct an interview

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By Teresa Saunders — Educational Consultant and Writer

This instruction text, the last in this year’s How to… series, covers planning, conducting and writing up an interview. It complements Poster 1, in Literacy Time PLUS Ages 9 to 11 May 2008 identifies key objectives and gives advice on how to get the best from the interviewee.

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Before reading

  • Discuss famous people and list those you would like to interview, giving reasons for your choice.
  • Show interview clips – eg, from ‘Newsround’. Comment on the most entertaining or informative features.
  • Experiment with different question types. Evaluate which question word or type elicits the most useful information.
  • Introduce the poster as a piece of instructional writing which could help improve the quality of an interview.

Shared reading

  • Discuss the layout, captions and print style. How do they gain your attention?
  • Comment on the chronological nature of the points. How is this helpful?
  • Evaluate the ‘Do’ and ‘Don’t’ sections and use of bullets. How effective is the imperative? Are there other examples?
  • Invite children to read each section. Are all areas covered? What about putting the interviewee at their ease?
  • Appraise the poster’s guidelines for value, quality or usefulness.

Previous learning

Children should have: some experience in framing questions using what, when, where, how, and why vocabulary; had practice sessions interviewing people with whom they are familiar.

Responding

  • Using dialogic talk, explore the types of questions used. Consider closed and open questions and decide which gives more information – eg:

“Do you feel excited at having won a gold medal?”

“Yes, very excited.”

Or

“Can you describe how you feel about winning a gold medal?”

“I can’t believe it. I’m absolutely delighted. It’s what I’ve dreamt of…”

  • Devise questions as a class, then rewrite them to elicit more interesting and exciting information – eg:

“Are you proud to be representing your country at the Olympics?”

“You broke your ankle during a race last year – is it causing you any problems at the moment?”

  • Look at the questions posed in Poster 1 of Literacy Time PLUS Ages 9 to 11, May 2008 to Dame Kelly Holmes. Are they open or closed?
  • How does the structure of this text compare to other information texts or to a narrative text?

Key learning outcomes:

To use and explore different question types;

To adapt sentence construction to different text-types, purposes and readers;

To use the techniques of dialogic talk to explore ideas, topics or issues;

To make notes when listening for a sustained period;

To analyse and evaluate how points are effectively presented through use of language and gesture.

Speaking and listening

  • Hotseat a teacher or child and ask them open and closed questions. Which elicits the most information?
  • Using the poster guidelines, interview your headteacher or a famous local celebrity. Don’t forget to research background information.
  • Video an interview and comment on the interviewer’s body language, style and range of questions. Which aspects were effective in drawing out information from the interviewee?

Writing activity

  • During the interview make notes to explain ideas, events and viewpoints.Use the activity sheet below to structure your notes.
  • Write up the notes, using both direct and reported speech. Develop a theme or direction for the interview and use a variety of sentence construction and punctuation. Include details of the interviewee’s body language and the use of gesture and language to present important points. * Use ICT programs to present the text, considering italics and bold print to emphasise different parts of the interview.

Plenary

  • Transform closed questions into open ones so children can see the difference.
  • After interviewing a child or teacher adopting a role, reflect on how working in role helps to explain complex issues.
  • Feedback to the class after using the poster guidelines to conduct an interview. What went well in the interview, what could be improved?

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