Good Profile Interview Questions

by Robert Rimm ; Updated September 26, 2017

Asking perceptive and informative profile interview questions is an art form in itself. Questions must be designed to elicit useful and engaging answers, with an eye toward the intended audience. Questions may be for a general-interest story, a business article or a family-oriented publication, with accompanying questions that directly address what readers are most interested in learning.

Childhood Influences

Questions that elicit childhood memories, responses and influences can be among the most revealing. Good profilers will ask about earliest memories, parents, strongest influences, school experiences, daily routines, most influential teachers, happiest and most regrettable days, aspirations, pets and childhood feelings of fitting in or being loners. Effective interviewers also allow the questions and answers to carry their own rhythm, which may lead to unanticipated directions that can be rich in memory and incident.

Family Life

Experiences as an adult can be quite informative. Questions that ask about first dates, relationship experiences, how the interviewee met his spouse, details of the marriage proposal and subsequent wedding, the birth and care of children, and aspirations for their children all all game topics. Divorce and death, if applicable, can also be sensitively addressed.

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Cultural Inspirations

Cultural questions ask about favorite movies and stars, sports teams and figures, books and music. Rather than just collect a list of such people and events, good interviewers dig deeper to reveal the "why" behind the answers, to show how personal reactions can lead to lifelong influences.

Personal Character and Perceptions

Questions about personal character and perceptions are best for the middle or end of the interview, after a comfortable rapport has been established. Matters of a more personal nature include which time period the interviewees may want to live in, which people both past and present they would like to meet, how they would honestly describe themselves, how friends and acquaintances describe them, what they are most proud of, what they would do differently if given the chance, their political and religious beliefs, and how they would best like to be remembered.

About the Author

Robert Rimm graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and founded 88keys.com to provide education, writing and communications services for clients within the nonprofit, arts and education communities in the United States, Europe and Russia. His key interests include art and culture, social entrepreneurship, education, the environment and human rights. He is fluent in French and Russian, and is a widely published author.

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