Conducting Research Interviews
When carrying out qualitative research, interview may be included in the methodology as means of obtaining qualitative information from certain category of people. An interview in such a case is a kind of discussion where a researcher, probably a professional or a trained and paid researcher asks a series of questions from interviewees so as to extract qualitative information from them about a particular area of research interest. It is important for a researcher who intends to employ interview as a research tool to understand properly the right way to go about it so as to get good results. Below are things to put in mind and in place to ensure success in carrying out a research interview.
Choose Your Target Audience
Depending on your area of research, choose the right category of people who will be able to provide the needed answers to your questions. People who will be able to give the qualitative information you need in that area in terms of their opinions experiences and the likes. You should also decide the number of interviewees that will be adequate for your research. Interviewing people may most times require you to obtain some ethical permissions. Obtain the permissions and also ensure you have the individual consent of your interviewees.
Have a Suitable Means of Recording?
Ensure you have a good means of recording for during your interview session, you should use a means of recording that your interviewee is comfortable with, be it audio record, note taking or you might want to use video coverage. Don’t rely on your brain to remember everything that is said, that is not practically possible, so it is important for you to employ the best means of recording the data you are getting. The faintest pen is sharper than the sharpest memory.
Create Your Questions Carefully
You should take time to carefully craft your questions. Make sure your questions are so asked in a way that your interviewee can be able to express his or her opinion. There should be less of yes or no questions and more of open ended questions where answers can be given with better explanation. When preparing your questions, avoid the use of too many hard vocabularies, try as much as possible to use the layman’s language so that the people you are interviewing can understand you better and answer well. Also avoid asking leading questions, that is questions asked in such a way that the respondent will have to answer in line with what you are supposing or insinuating.
Have a Good Place and Time?
Schedule a good venue for your interviews to take place. The chosen place has to be comfortable for the persons to be interviewed, probably their homes or place of work. Don’t choose a noisy place or a place with too much distractions. Also choose a time that is convenient for the interviewees. A comfortable environment and time will foster the success of the interview session. Making interviewees comfortable will make it easier for them to express themselves and you can get better and more accurate information.
Complement with Other Methods
While it quite good to conduct research interview for researches that necessitate such, interviews will provide you with qualitative data that may not be easily quantified, you should also complement it with other methods of investigation or research. You could use questionnaires and the likes to generate more useful information.
Inform Interviewees About Confidentiality
While you may not be able to promise absolute confidentiality of the information your interviewees will give you, it is important to let them know the scope of confidentiality available for the information they are giving you. This might help some people to be able to open up better about the questions you are posing to them.
Ensure you prepare yourself for the interview session before the time so as to be able to do it in an adequate manner. Reading up about the subject of conversation will help you to have a better grasp the matter, and you probably will be able to create more informed questions. Ensure you also have a good understanding of your recording device beforehand.
Start on a Light Note
Don’t begin the interview in a very official or formal tone, this may not serve to really make the interviewee comfortable with you. Try to start on a lighter note, ask your questions in a way that will make the conversation flow. You can start by asking a neutral question or by asking a question like ‘what prompted your interest in this profession?’. When you begin on a good mood, you create an atmosphere of familiarity where your interviewee can be more expressive.
Test Your Questions
Before carrying out the interview proper, you can try to test your questions. You can use your friends or volunteers. Test run the interview questions and session, test to check the clarity of the questions, if they are not too clear, rephrase them. Also check the language used in the questions. Doing this exercise before the real deal will likely help you to identify things you need to change or improve on as against the actual interview.
Take Influence into Cognisance
If it’s a kind of research interview where a superior is interviewing people under him, like a teacher to students, then you should be careful to ensure that the students or ‘subjects’ as the case may be are not trying to give expected answers. Their responses to the questions should not be influenced by the mind-set of pleasing the superior figure. When it is the other way round too, that is in instances where it is the person lower in rank interviewing persons above him/her for a research purpose, the power influence should be taken into cognisance.
Build Some Sort of Relationship Prior the Interview
Try to have some kind of good relationship with your intended interviewees before the interview session. You could send in a draft of your intended questions to your interviewees before the day for the interview after you’ve broken down the intended questions into more comprehensible terms in the draft you are sending so they can easily know and understand what you are coming to ask them about later on. This could enhance better flow and preparedness of your interviewees. When you are asking the questions too, try to create some rapport for better flow.
State Your Purpose
Let your interviewees know exactly why you are interested in what you are asking. This may serve to build better rapport between you and your interviewees, and could help them to express themselves in a more real way.
Specify the Time Span
State the duration it will take to conduct and complete the interview session. Make it short and convenient for your interviewees.
Let them in on Your Intended Format
If you want them to ask questions while you are interviewing them, or you want the questions to be after the interview, let them know.
Avoid Unnecessary Discussions
Don’t get into irrelevant conversations during the interview. Try to go in line with things relevant to the research and manage time wisely.
Summarize and Confirm
When you are done with the research, you can endeavour to summarize all that has been said and ask from your interviewee if your summary represents their answers and opinions well.