CATEGORIES: Foundation Courses

ENGL 150: Modeling an interview


Photo of Ginnia Kovach
Ginnia Kovach

To help students prepare for the profile assignment, Ginnia Kovach arranges guests to come to the classroom to be interviewed about their work. The activity’s purpose is to help students understand interview etiquette, craft solid interview questions, approach recording the interview, and take substantial notes. Kovach recommends focusing on people who are in some kind of leadership role in the university or wider Ames community. By interviewing people who have some kind of connection to the wider Ames community, Kovach finds it allows students to learn what it means to be a community member beyond the confines of Iowa State University’s campus. 

Access Ginnia Kovach’s Profile – Interview Demonstration Powerpoint here.

The following is an example of how the activity can be structured in the ENGL 150 classroom:



Activity –

Instructor preparation:

Craft questions that are informed by background research on the invited guest, including questions that have direct relevance to students (for example, finding connections between community action and campus life). Send the interviewee any questions in preparation.

Activity process:

Instructor should demonstrate interview etiquette by asking the guest if they can record the interview and asking them their name (including spelling) as well as their role/job. 

Instructor interviews guest for 15-20 minutes, then opens discussion for questions from the students. After the guest has left, instructor should model their own notes (including organization, process, etc), then talk about how using an interview in writing is, ideally, a combination of referencing annotations and re-listening to the recorded interview. 

After sharing process suggestions, instructor can spend some time asking the class what they learned from the interview – whether that is about the person or about the interview process. Some students share their observations, and that helps everyone else in the class.

Student engagement:

To encourage student engagement, instruct students to take notes and also think of a question they might ask the guest (it is optional to actually ask the question out loud). As a small assignment created in Canvas (5 points), instruct students to submit one sentence about a takeaway from the guest interview before the day is through. Students can spend remaining time working on their own profiles, such as writing an e-mail to their preferred subject or crafting profile questions – or doing some background research on their subject.