Sometime in the next few days, you are going to be conducting an interview–either formally with the subject of your Profile Essay or informally with people you meet.
I wanted to key you into this great interview of Malcolm X, which was conducted in 1963 by Alex Haley for Playboy Magazine. Not only is this particular moment important for Malcolm X who was at the height of his power and idealism at that moment, but it is a solid example of how to conduct an interesting and informative interview.
Notice how Haley puts Malcolm X at ease, alternating between easy questions Malcolm X wants to answer and hard questions that challenge him. He never takes Malcolm X at his first word, but pushes, with tact and respect, to find a deeper answer.
Unfortunately, this interview was never turned into a profile; however, for you, it provides an insight into how professional journalists set-up for writing a good essay. When you interview your subject, remember that their first answer might not be enough. Everyone performs a role, and we have a vested interest in maintaining it.
[Photo by Ed Ford, which can be found here, and used under creative commons]