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Learn2 Learn2 Write a Letter of Recommendation (continued)
Step 1: Interview the person

Even if you know the person well, make sure you have a clear idea of what the recommendation is for and why you're being asked to do it. If the person doesn't offer this information, set aside some time for an informal interview. Here are some questions to ask:

What exactly is the recommendation for? If it's for a job, what duties will be involved? If it's for a school, what will the person's focus of study be? What are the person's future aspirations after this next step? The more specific information you receive, the better you can craft your letter. On the other hand, the request might be for a general recommendation--a letter the person can keep on file and use as an all-purpose recommendation.

Why you? The answer might be obvious, but remember that schools and businesses often ask for multiple recommendation letters, some focusing on the personal, some on the professional. If you're a friend of the person, he or she may want a letter dealing with more personal characteristics.

What accomplishments or qualities is the person most proud of? You won't necessarily focus on this information in your letter, but it will give you a better sense of what the person considers important about him or herself.

What other information or materials might prove helpful? You can ask for this in an organized packet. For example, students might include their transcripts, relevant papers, and portfolios. Employees or coworkers could include their resume, samples of work projects, and so on.

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Step 1: Interview the person
Step 2: List the qualities
Step 3: Organize and write the letter