Interviewing requires you to actively listen, focus, think on your feet, and react appropriately to what the other person says. When you plan for an interview, you need to assess what you don’t know—a metacognitive skill—and learn a lot about the interview subject because otherwise, the interview will be awkward. This is real life, with real consequences if you’re unprepared and a real payoff if you do well—the heart of project-based learning.
Listening and really trying to appreciate where the other person is coming from is also an exercise in empathy and discovering how to connect. These life skills will help prepare students for college and jobs, and interviewing is a great way to address high school ELA and NGSS standards around communication, evaluating pertinent information, pulling important quotes, and emphasizing salient points, as well as ISTE and media literacy standards of digital production and multimedia presentations.
A really fun and engaging way to practice composing better questions is to reverse engineer Humans of New York, a project that started when photographer Brandon Stanton decided to tell the stories of 10,000 random people. Stanton meets people on the street, takes their picture, and interviews them. He publishes each picture with a snippet of the interview in which the person describes something significant from their life.
This lesson is based on an exercise that Iowa English teacher Sarah Brown Wessling created to help her students get to know each other.