As part of a larger writing unit (observational writing, character) I invited students' favorite staff members to class to be interviewed by the class. I've also invited veterans, engineers and entrepreneurs, and firefighters. I take student volunteers from the class as well. To prepare, we read published interviews of famous people from books, magazines, online, etc. We talked about what kinds of questions will lead to answers that tell us the most about the person, and what's appropriate to ask, what's too personal, etc. As part of the writing unit, we also discussed the importance of paying attention to body language, clothing, facial expressions, verbal tics.
Students always found that they didn't know as much about the subject as they had assumed. They were always surprised--and often humbled--by things they learned about lives of the staff: the security guard, the head custodian, the assistant principal--as well as the lives of their peers. This experience rewards curiosity and heightens empathy, and often highlights the rewards of character traits that the subjects display: vulnerability, perseverance, honesty, etc.