What are some questions to ask someone I am interviewing for a profile essay? The person I am interviewing is a business professor and a world traveler.  I am focusing on these two points.

Expert Answers

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There are two ways to approach this interview.  The first is to come in to the interview without a plan for your essay and to ask as many open-ended and broad questions as possible.  Based on the answers and the direction the person takes with the answers, you then organize your essay around the information you receive.  If you take this direction, some sample questions to get you started might be:

  • Tell me about how/why you chose this particular career path?
  • How has traveling affected your career?
  • What is your favorite story about some of your travels?
  • What parts of your personality suited you for this career and hobby?
  • What advice do you have for someone my age who wishes to do something similar to what you have done?
  • Do you have any regrets and what are they?  Or, if not, why not?

This can make for an interesting interview and likely, because the note-taking is similar to brainstorming, you will see some logical organization points emerge from which to base your essay.  This approach would be best if you are starting from scratch and do not have any ideas about the purpose of your essay when you begin the interview.

The second approach to writing interview questions is to have a plan in mind for the purpose of your essay.  It can be a rough idea, but base your interview questions only around the subjects you wish to include in your essay.  For example, perhaps you intend to only focus on this person's adult-life, his career, and his travels.  It would be a waste of time to pose questions that might only provide information from his childhood.  Perhaps you have a specific character or personality trait you wish to highlight in this profile essay.  Base your questions around these specifics to provide the concrete details for points you already planned to include.  Some example questions from this approach might be:

  • How have your organization skills specifically aided you to getting where you are today?
  • How have your communication and networking skills furthered your career?
  • How has communication and networking skills also been beneficial in your world traveling?
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