CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Personality Interview

Media Studies, Business Studies, English Language Arts
2 lessons
To understand and use the characteristics of a personality interview
Students will identify the characteristics of a personality interview, then prepare and conduct one of their own.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students to brainstorm when in their lives they may have to be interviewed or may have to conduct interviews themselves. List their responses.

Next, ask students to describe a personality interview (an interview whose topic is the person being interviewed) they have seen or read that influenced them in some way. Students should describe the person interviewed, the interviewer, and why this interview was memorable.

From the characteristics students have listed, determine what makes a memorable interview. Students may note the following points:

  • an interview is a conversation
  • an interview begins with questions about the person's interests to get the person talking
  • an interviewer next poses routine questions, followed by more sensitive questions
  • an interviewer is a good listener who is interested, prepared, and enthusiastic
  • a good interviewer keeps the audience in mind and tries to get information that the audience would like to know
  • good questions are straightforward and don't produce yes/no answers

Outline the Opportunity

Have students spend about 30 minutes scanning the topic Barbara Frum: Pioneering Broadcaster on the CBC Digital Archives website. They should view only the personality interviews that they have not used in previous activities and make notes about whether they think Frum's personality interviews meet the class criteria for a memorable interview.

As a class, based on the class list and students' analyses of various personality interviews, create a class outline of the necessary steps for conducting a personality interview.

Students will choose someone in the class or school to interview, then prepare 10 questions that they believe will lead to a memorable interview. Students should contact their interview subject to arrange the interview, practise and have their questions well prepared, and be prepared to ask additional questions. Students should conduct and, if given permission, tape their interviews.

Revisit and Reflect

Tell students that Barbara Frum always prepared for her interviews by asking herself, "What can be accomplished here?" Before students play their interviews for the class, ask them what they accomplished in their interviews, and if their accomplishment was, indeed, their goal.

Play the interviews for the class. Encourage constructive class discussion about whether the interviews are memorable, and what criteria the interviewer has met to achieve success.


Ask students to analyze a personality interview of their choice. Have them compare it to one of Frum's interviews and to their own interview. Ask them to identify the interviewer's purpose. In what ways does the interview meet the class criteria for a personality interview? In what ways does it not meet the criteria? Are there any criteria that need to be added to the list?

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