How to Write an Interview Essay for a Psychology Class


No study of the human psyche would be complete without examination of actual humans. For this reason, many psychology classes combine interview assignments with textbook reading and research paper assignments. It's common to be asked by an instructor to write an interview essay to communicate your understanding of a particular area of psychology such as adult development. After reading literature on the topic and discussing concepts in class, you may have to conduct an interview with someone that shows how the particular theory your class is examining is evident in the interviewee.

Things You'll Need

  • 10 interview questions
  • Test and real interview subjects
  • Develop 10 interview questions that you think get at the subject matter you have been studying. For example, if your class focuses on adult development, you might want to ask questions like "How well do you get along with others?" or "Who do you not enjoy talking to or being around? Why?" Show your questions to your professor and ask for feedback on whether they are good questions or will need to be revised.

  • Practice asking the interview questions to one of your classmates before conducting the interview to determine if you need to reword any of them and to practice delivering the interview questions.

  • Select at least one subject to interview, or preferably more if your instructor and paper length restrictions will allow it. Conduct the actual interview(s). Expect your interview to last at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours and plan accordingly. Bring a digital tape recorder as well as a laptop computer or notebook paper and pen to record subject responses.

  • Transcribe your interview recording by listening to the tape and typing everything that the subject(s) said. Analyze responses for connections to theories presented in class. Consider conducting a follow-up interview with the subject(s) to aid in your explanation of their life and attitudes in your paper.

  • Create an outline for your paper and incorporate interview data into the outline to support your arguments explaining a particular psychological theory. Decide which published sources you will use in your paper and note the order in which you will present their arguments in your paper. Show how the interview responses evidence particular theories.

  • Write an introduction and thesis statement and turn those in along with your outline to your professor. Ask for feedback to ensure that you are on track to earn a good grade for your paper.

  • Write a rough draft of your paper, working on one or two sections at a time for a few hours each day until your paper is complete. Take a day or two away from your paper and then come back to edit it for flow, consistency and readability. Ensure that you have fully answered your thesis statement or explained the theory you chose to examine.

  • Ask a classmate to review your paper for the same -- readability and flow. Revise your paper as needed. Review your paper a second time for grammar, punctuation, adherence to style standards and compile your reference or works cited list.


  • Photo Credit recorder image by Marek Kosmal from
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