Interviews provide another way to collect data when conducting qualitative research. In this post, we will look at the following,
- Characteristics of the interviewees
- Types of interviews
- Types of questions
- Tips for conducting interviews
Characteristics of the Interviewees
Qualitative research involves two types of interviewees. If you are interviewing only one person this is a one-on-one interview. If you are interviewing a group this is often called a focus group.
One-on-One interviewing allows for in-depth data collection but takes a great deal of time. Focus groups, on the other hand, allows a researcher to gather a more varied opinion while saving time. Care also must be taken to make sure everyone participates in a focus group.
Types of Interviews
There are three common types of interview structured, semi-structured and informal. Structured interviews consist of a strict set of questions that are read in order word for word to interviewees. The goal is for the interviewee to answer all questions.
At the opposite extreme are informal interviews which are conversations that can flow in any direction. There is no set script of questions and the interviewee can go anywhere they want in the conversation
The middle ground between formal and informal interviewing is semi-structured interviews. In this approach, the researcher has questions they want to ask but they can vary the order, reword, ask follow-up questions, and or omit questions As such, there is a negotiable format in semi-structured interviews.
Types of Questions
There are several types of questions that are used in qualitative research. The types are self-explanatory and are listed below with an example
- Knowledge question-“How does email work?”
- Experience question-“What was it like growing up in the 1990’s?”
- Opinion question-“What is your view of the tax cuts?”
- Feeling question-“How do the change in curfew make you feel?”
- Sensory question-“What does the kitchen smell like?”
Keep in mind that open ended questions are more common the closed-ended questions in qualitative research. This allows the interviewee to share their perspective rather than reply yes and no.
Tips for Conducting Interviews
Below are some tips for conducting interviews
- Establish rapport-Establishing some form of relationship helps the interviewee to feel comfortable.
- Location matters-Pick a quiet place to conduct the interview(s) if possible.
- Record the interview-This is standard practice and is necessary in order to develop a transcript.
- Take notes-Even with a recording, taking notes helps you to recall what happened during the interview.
- Use wisdom with questions-Avoid leading questions which are unfair and make sure to ask one question at a time.
- Show respect and courtesy during the interview-Be polite and considerate of the interviewee who has given you some of their time.
This not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather to provide some basic guidelines.
Along with observations, interviews is one of the most common forms of data collection in qualitative research. When you are in the field doing interviews it is important to consider what kind of interview you are doing, what questions you are going to ask, as well as the guidelines for conducting interviews presented in this post.