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Helping a Teen Plan and Conduct an Interview
|Grades||6 – 12|
|Tip Topic||Tips for Teaching Writing
See all tips in this series
Why Use This Tip
Interviewing family members or friends can be a valuable way for teens and preteens to learn about themselves and their families. These interviews don't need to be formal, but a little time spent in preparation will result in a more positive, productive experience for everyone involved.
Watch the Helping a Teen Plan and Conduct an Interview video.
In this video, a father helps a teen prepare for an interview with his mother. While you view the video, watch for demonstrations of these tips as the interview process moves from planning to completion.
- As much as possible, let the teen do the planning.
- Early on, the teen in the video asks for help developing questions. This is certainly a natural part of the process. The adult, however, doesn't immediately suggest questions. Rather, he asks the teen what is most interesting about his mother and then helps him shape a question from there.
- Use a variety of strategies to prompt the teen's questioning.
- At one point the father shares some family history to guide the teen to think about asking questions about his mother's relatives. At another point, the teen comes up with a general topic-friends-and the father prompts him to develop a question from that area of interest. Also watch for the various ways the father encourages and clarifies the teen's thinking through praise and rephrasing of his thoughts.
- Make sure the teen is prepared for the interview itself.
- Thinking through a list of questions is important, but the adult in this video prompts the teen to choose one question as the starting point. This technique, as well as making sure that the teen has a way to record the interview participant's answers (notebook, laptop computer, tape recorder, etc.), will ensure the interview starts smoothly.
- Remind the teen to be respectful of the interviewee's answers.
- The teen takes good notes throughout the interview itself. While this is certainly important, notice that he is also actively listening and engaging with his mother's answers. At one point, he asks an unplanned follow-up question. Again, the list of questions is good preparation, but being ready to get more information when the opportunity arises is a great way to learn more and show the interviewee that the teen is truly hearing what he or she is saying. The teen also thanks his mother and assures her she will have access to the final product relating to the interview.
- Help the teen move the process beyond the interview.
- After the interview, the father checks in with the teen to see how the interview went. This is a valuable way to collect information that might be useful for future interview experiences. The father then concludes this part of the process by prompting the teen to choose a way to organize and publish his information, here in the form of a poster with a family tree and photographs.