120 Questions to Ask When Interviewing Someone About Their Life

When embarking on the journey of interviewing someone about their life, we delve into the rich tapestry of their experiences, beliefs, and lessons learned. This collection of questions serves as a key to unlocking the treasure trove of stories that every individual carries.

These queries are designed to navigate through the chapters of one’s existence, from the innocence of early childhood to the wisdom that comes with reflecting on the future. Engage with these prompts to discover the essence of a person’s life story and craft a narrative that is both profound and enlightening.

Early Life and Family Background

  1. Can you share where and when you were born?
  2. What memories do you have of your childhood home?
  3. How would you describe your family dynamic as a child?
  4. Do you have any siblings, and what were your relationships like with them?
  5. What were your parents’ professions, and how did they influence you?
  6. Are there any particular family traditions that influenced your upbringing?
  7. What is your earliest memory?
  8. Did you have any pets growing up?
  9. What activities or hobbies did you enjoy as a child?
  10. How did your family celebrate holidays or special occasions?
  11. Who were your role models within your family, and why?
  12. Was there something unique about your family’s cultural background?
  13. What was your favorite thing to do with your family?
  14. Did you face any hardships during your early years?
  15. How do you think your upbringing has shaped the person you are today?

Education and Career Development

  1. What was your favorite subject in school and why?
  2. Did you participate in any extracurricular activities or sports?
  3. Who was your favorite teacher, and what impact did they have on your life?
  4. What level of education have you achieved, and how did you decide on that path?
  5. How did you get into your current profession or line of work?
  6. What jobs have you held, and what lessons did you learn from them?
  7. Have you had any mentors in your professional life?
  8. What are you most proud of accomplishing in your career?
  9. Did you have a career plan, and how did you follow or deviate from it?
  10. How do you balance your work life with your personal life?
  11. What’s the most challenging aspect of your career?
  12. Have you worked abroad, and if so, what was that experience like?
  13. In your view, what constitutes success in a career?
  14. Have you ever had to make a significant career change?
  15. What advice would you give to someone starting in your field?

Personal Philosophies and Values

  1. What personal values are most important to you?
  2. Have your values changed over the years, and why?
  3. What life philosophy do you live by?
  4. How do you define happiness?
  5. What do you believe is the purpose of life?
  6. How important is spirituality or religion in your life?
  7. How do you approach making difficult decisions?
  8. What have you learned about yourself through your relationships with others?
  9. In terms of legacy, what do you want to be remembered for?
  10. How do you deal with regret or mistakes?
  11. What does success mean to you outside of your career?
  12. How do you handle stress or anxiety?
  13. What practices do you follow to maintain mental and emotional well-being?
  14. What role do politics or social issues play in your life?
  15. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Major Life Events and Turning Points

  1. Can you describe a pivotal moment in your life?
  2. How did a significant loss affect your life perspective?
  3. What life event has brought you the most joy?
  4. Has there been an unexpected turn in your life that you now see as a blessing?
  5. Were there any historical events that significantly impacted your life?
  6. Can you talk about a major accomplishment and how you achieved it?
  7. How did becoming a parent (if applicable) change your life?
  8. Was there a point when you had to make a tough choice that altered your life’s direction?
  9. How has your life been different from what you imagined as a young person?
  10. Can you share a time when you took a big risk?
  11. What has been your most significant career milestone?
  12. Have you ever moved to a new place and started over? What was that like?
  13. Can you tell me about a time when you overcame a major obstacle?
  14. Have you ever pursued a dream or goal against all odds?
  15. What is one event you wish you could relive, and why?

Relationships and Community Connections

  1. Who has been the most influential person in your life outside of your family?
  2. Can you describe a friendship that has greatly impacted you?
  3. How do you contribute to or participate in your community?
  4. What role have your friends played throughout your life?
  5. Have you been involved in volunteer work or activism?
  6. How has your perspective on relationships changed over time?
  7. What is the key to maintaining long-lasting relationships, in your opinion?
  8. Can you talk about a time when a community came together to support you or others?
  9. Have you ever felt isolated or disconnected? How did you overcome that?
  10. How do you nurture new relationships?
  11. What do you treasure most about your community?
  12. How do you resolve conflicts within your personal relationships?
  13. Is there someone you’ve lost contact with whom you’d like to reconnect?
  14. How do you decide who to trust?
  15. Can you share a story about a personal connection that taught you a valuable lesson?

Challenges and Overcoming Adversities

  1. What was the most challenging period in your life?
  2. How have difficult times shaped who you are today?
  3. Can you tell me about a time when you failed at something important to you?
  4. What was the biggest risk you’ve taken that didn’t pay off?
  5. How do you cope with setbacks or disappointments?
  6. Can you share a personal challenge that you’re proud to have overcome?
  7. Who or what gave you strength during tough times?
  8. Has there been a challenge that you’ve faced repeatedly, and how have you approached it?
  9. How do you manage to keep a positive outlook during times of crisis?
  10. What strategies do you use to regain motivation after a setback?
  11. Have health issues ever been a major challenge for you?
  12. What was a crucial turning point in overcoming a particular adversity?
  13. What is the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn in life?
  14. How have difficult experiences contributed to your growth?
  15. In what ways have your struggles brought about positive changes in your life?

Creativity and Passions

  1. What hobbies or activities do you feel most passionate about?
  2. How do you cultivate your creative side?
  3. Can you share an example of a project you worked on that was driven by passion?
  4. Was there ever a time when you had to fight for your creative ideas?
  5. How do you find inspiration for your creative endeavors?
  6. What does creativity mean to you, and why is it important in your life?
  7. Are there any creative pursuits you wish you had the time or resources to explore?
  8. How do you overcome creative blocks?
  9. What’s a passion project you’ve always wanted to start?
  10. How do you integrate your passions into your daily life?
  11. Can you describe a time when you shared your passion with others?
  12. What creative achievement are you most proud of?
  13. Has your creativity ever been misunderstood or undervalued?
  14. How have your passions changed or evolved over the years?
  15. What advice would you give to someone trying to pursue their creative interests?

Reflections and Look to the Future

  1. Looking back, what piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
  2. What are you most looking forward to in the future?
  3. Are there any dreams or goals you still wish to accomplish?
  4. What are your hopes for your family and loved ones?
  5. How do you want the next generations to remember this time period?
  6. What changes do you hope to see in the world within your lifetime?
  7. How do you plan to spend your retirement or later years?
  8. Is there anything you want to change about your current lifestyle?
  9. What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
  10. How do you stay informed and plan for the future in a rapidly changing world?
  11. Do you have a bucket list, and if so, what’s on it?
  12. What role do you think technology will play in shaping the future?
  13. How do you keep a forward-thinking mindset?
  14. What innovation or advancement are you most excited to see develop?
  15. How do you envision your community or society evolving?

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make the interviewee feel comfortable when discussing their life?

  • Establish a rapport with the interviewee before diving into deeper questions.
  • Be empathetic and respectful, giving them control over how much they wish to share.
  • Ensure a private and quiet setting for the conversation where the interviewee feels at ease.

What should I avoid when asking questions about someone’s life?

  • Steer clear of intrusive or sensitive topics unless the interviewee has expressed a willingness to address them.
  • Avoid yes or no questions that might limit the depth of the conversation.
  • Do not push for details if the interviewee is reluctant to share certain aspects of their life.

How do I know if a question is appropriate or not?

  • Consider the comfort and cultural background of the individual.
  • If in doubt, ask the interviewee if they are comfortable answering a particular type of question.
  • Observe body language and cues to gauge if the interviewee might feel uneasy.

Final Thoughts

Interviewing someone about their life is akin to painting a portrait with words. The questions I have curated for you will help to reveal the subject’s deeper layers, highlight pivotal moments, and honor the unique journey of the individual.

Through this discerning exploration, you’ll not only have a series of responses but a narrative that resonates with the authentic human experience. The stories uncovered may surprise, inspire, or even challenge us, but they will certainly enrich our understanding of the diverse tapestry of human life.

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Bea is an editor and writer with a passion for literature and self-improvement. Her ability to combine these two interests enables her to write informative and thought-provoking articles that positively impact society. She enjoys reading stories and listening to music in her spare time.