Writing Interview Questions

Having a prepared list of interview questions or topics that you want to explore is a great way for both novice and seasoned interviewers to keep the interview conversation on track and ensure you’re capturing the material you’re looking for.

During the interview, depending on what feels best to you, you can go through these questions verbatim, or you can use them as a guide to refer back to occasionally to make sure you don’t forget any important points you want to cover.

Here are some ways to effectively write and organize your interview questions:

Tip 1

Figure out your main points

Before the day of your interview, find some quiet, unrushed time to sit down and think about the key things you would like your interviewee to say or address in the video you’re creating.  You may have some really specific statements that you’d like them to make, or you may want to ask open-ended questions in order to explore their thoughts on a subject, or both. 

Tip 2

Order your questions in a way that makes sense

Make a list of your questions and organize them in a way that flows as naturally as possible.  For example, if you’re interviewing someone about their history, you’ll want to sequence your questions in chronological order.  Or if you’re dealing with a difficult subject, you’ll want to start with questions that are less likely to elicit strong emotions to help your interviewee get  comfortable in the interview and broach the tougher questions later.  (In general, start simple so you can build your interviewee’s confidence and help them relax into the interview.)

Tip 3

Put emphasis on your key questions

Often, you’ll end up with more questions than you have time for in the actual interview.  For this reason, it’s a good idea to highlight the questions you absolutely must ask in whatever way works for you. (Bolding, asterisks, etc.)  That way, when you see you’re running out of time, you won’t get overwhelmed by all your questions, and can just skip to the ones that you know are key for that interview.  

Tip 4

Keep your questions on paper

To keep yourself organized during the interview, we recommend printing out your questions and using a clipboard and pen to check off questions, cross them out if you’ve decided to skip them, or add new ones as they come up during the interview.   

BONUS TIP! Your last question should always be “Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you feel is important to talk about?”  You’ll be surprised by what can come up as a result of asking that simple question!