How to Cite an Interview in APA Format

Woman interviewing a man

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The reference list of an APA format paper contains a list of published sources that can be located by readers. While much of your research may come from books, professional journals, newspapers, and online databases, sometimes you may find yourself needing to cite information that you gather from other sources, including interviews.

So how should writers handle the sourcing of personal interviews? If you use information or quotations that were taken from an interview with a source, you need to cite the source, how the information was collected, and when the interview was conducted.

Because these interviews are not something that can be located by a reader in any published source or searchable database, they should not be included in your reference section.

When you include details gathered from a personal interview in an academic or professional paper, you should cite the information parenthetically in the main body of your text in a format similar to that of other in-text citations.

How to Cite an Interview

There are some basic rules you should follow for an APA interview citation:

  • Include the last name and first initial of the interviewee
  • Include the date the interview took place
  • Note indicating the type of interview

Here is the basic structure you should use:

(First Initial, Last Name, Type of interview, Date of interview)

An example of how this would look in the body of your paper:

“Drug use among teens can be attributed to the increased availability of the substance” (R. Heathfield, personal communication, May 9, 2019).

If, however, you include the name of the interview subject in-text to introduce or paraphrase a quote, you do not need to list the source’s name again parenthetically.

For example:

R. Heathfield (personal communication, May 9, 2019) suggested that the change in drug use among teens could be attributed to the increased availability of the substance.

How to Note the Type of Interview

The APA offers some guidelines for how to handle different types of interviews:

  • Personal interviews: Whether your interview was conducted in person or via text or telephone, you should cite the information as a ‘personal communication.’ 
  • Emails: Because emails are not retrievable by other readers, the APA considers these as personal communications. They should be cited only in-text just as other interview sources and should not be included in your reference list.
  • Class lectures: Like emails, information taken from a class lecture, guest lecture, or group discussion cannot be accessed by other readers, so it should be cited as personal communication.
  • Research interviews: If you are interviewing a research subject, you will need to preserve the participant’s anonymity for ethical reasons. When referring to a specific participant, whether by summarizing their results or directly quoting their comments, you should be careful to avoid providing any identifying information. You might simply state that the individual is a participant or you might refer to them by non-identifying letters or nicknames (i.e. Student A, Participant B, etc.).

When to Use an Interview

There are a number of reasons why you might want to conduct an interview to gather information for your paper. 

Some reasons you might want to use an interview:

  • You have further questions that you want to ask an expert or researcher 
  • The written information on a topic is scant
  • An expert is able to offer specific insights that you cannot find elsewhere

Before You Do an Interview

There are some things that you should consider before you reach out to an expert for an interview. First and foremost, do not interview someone about the information that is easily available in published sources. You are responsible for conducting your own background research on a topic.

Once you have done a thorough literature review and it becomes clear that there are knowledge gaps in the information that is publicly available, then consider reaching out to an expert for additional insight.

Next, you should always approach the interview subject respectfully. 

  • Be observant of their time constraints
  • Be willing to conduct the interview on the subject’s schedule
  • Conduct the interview in the manner that best suits the subject’s needs, whether it is by phone, interview, or text
  • Have your questions prepared in advance
  • Send a follow-up note or email thanking them for their time

A Word From Verywell

While APA format dictates that you should not include unpublished interview sources in your reference list, you should cite these sources in the text of your paper. By doing so, you help ensure that your readers have a better understanding of where you got the information. These citations also help readers better appreciate the special insights that these sources add to your arguments.

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2010.

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.