How to cite an interview in APA format

The reference list for APA format papers contains a list of published sources that readers can find. Although most of your research may come from books, professional journals, newspapers, and online databases, sometimes you may find that you need to cite information collected from other sources (including interviews).

So how should writers deal with the sources of personal interviews? If the information or citation you use is taken from an interview with a source, you need to cite the source, how the information was collected, and the time the interview was conducted.

Because these interviews are not what readers can find in any published source or searchable database, they Shouldn’t Include in your reference section.

When you include detailed information gathered from personal interviews in an academic or professional paper, you should cite the information in parentheses in a format similar to other text citations in the body of the text.

How to quote an interview

For APA interview quotes, you should follow some basic rules:

  • Include the respondent’s last name and initials
  • Include the date of the interview
  • Note the type of interview
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This is the basic structure you should use:

(Initials, last name, interview type, interview date)

An example of how this looks in the body of your paper:

“Juvenile drug use can be attributed to the increased availability of this substance” (R. Heathfield, personal communication, May 9, 2019).

However, if you include the name of the interviewee in the text to introduce or explain the citation, you do not need to list the name of the source in parentheses again.

For example:

R. Heathfield (personal communication, May 9, 2019) stated that changes in youth drug use can be attributed to the increased availability of the substance.

How to pay attention to the type of interview

APA provides some guidelines on how to handle different types of interviews:

  • Personal Interview: Whether your interview is conducted in person or via SMS or phone, you should refer to this information as “personal communication.”
  • Email: Because other readers cannot retrieve emails, APA treats these as personal communications. They should only be cited in the text like other interview sources and should not be included in your reference list.
  • Class lectures: Like email, other readers cannot access the information obtained from class lectures, guest lectures, or group discussions, so it should be cited as a personal communication.
  • Research interviews: If you are interviewing a research subject, for ethical reasons, you need to keep the participants anonymous. When referring to specific participants, whether by summarizing their results or directly quoting their comments, you should be careful not to provide any identifying information. You can simply declare that the individual is a participant, or you can refer to them by non-identifying letters or nicknames (ie student A, participant B, etc.).

When to use interview

There are many reasons why you might want to conduct an interview to gather information about the paper.

Some reasons you might want to use interviews:

  • You have other questions to consult with experts or researchers
  • There is very little written information on a topic
  • Experts can provide specific insights you can’t find elsewhere

Before the interview

Before contacting an expert for an interview, there are a few things you should consider. First, don’t interview someone about easily available information from published sources. You are responsible for conducting your own background research on a topic.

Once you have completed a thorough literature review and it is clear that there is a knowledge gap in the public information, then please consider contacting an expert for more insights.

Next, you should always approach the interviewee respectfully.

  • Pay attention to their time limit
  • Willing to conduct interviews according to the subject’s schedule
  • Conduct interviews in a way that best suits the needs of the subject, whether by phone, interview or text message
  • Prepare your questions in advance
  • Send follow-up notifications or emails, thank them for their time

Very good sentence

Although the APA format states that you should not include unpublished interview sources in the reference list, you should cite these sources in the body of your paper. By doing this, you can help ensure that your readers better understand where you get information from. These citations can also help readers better understand the special insights these sources add to your argument.