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Interviews

Gary Akehurst
G.P.Akehurst 2001

Interviews

Interviews appear to be simple - everyone can engage in conversation no complex equipment needs to be used but interviews are more than conversations there is informed consent (the interviewee agrees to be interviewed) the interviewee understands and agrees that information is provided for a research project interviews are on the record and for the record unless interviewee specifies otherwise

Interviews

the interview agenda is set and controlled by the researcher the degree of control is set by the interviewing style the interview is designed to investigate a stated topic it needs:
careful planning extensive preparation sensitivity to the interaction process during the interview

need to make the best use of resources (time and funds) important decisions (e.g. small number of interviewees collecting more detailed information or a large number)

Interviews

Interviews are useful where:


there are a large number of questions to be answered the questions are complex the questions are open-ended the order and questioning logic need to be varied non-response to a question can be probed

Interviews

Structured Interviews based on tight control on wording of questions, order of questions and range of answers predetermined and standardised or identical set of questions (like an administered face-to-face questionnaire) often information input directly into a computer each question read out and then response recorded on a standardised schedule usually with pre-coded answers useful for collecting large data sets from a wide range of respondents and using quantitative analyses

Interviews

Semi-structured Interviews researcher has a clear list of themes and questions to be covered (although may vary from interview to interview) question order may be varied depending on the interview flow some questions may be omitted or added according to context data recorded by note taking or tape recording answers may be open-ended with interviewees encouraged to elaborate on points and issues exploratory and often used to understand relationships between variables

Interviews

Unstructured Interviews (or in-depth interviews) informal used to explore in depth an issue or area no pre-determined list of questions but need a clear sense of purpose and direction interviewees are encouraged to talk freely in the topic area so interviewee perceptions guide the interview good for exploring personal experiences and behaviours need to record vocabulary used

Interviews

a research project may incorporate more than one type of interview in a quantitative approach you may decide to use unstructured interviews to identify variables the data collected is then used to design a questionnaire or structured interview or, using semi-structured interviews to explore, explain and validate themes that have emerged from a questionnaire survey

Interviews

Personal Contact often managers prefer to be interviewed rather than complete a questionnaire the interview topic may be interesting and relevant to their work interviews enable reflection on events without writing down thoughts opportunities for feedback assurances can be given about the way the information will be used

Interviews

One-to-One Interviews
popular easy to arrange views and opinions come from one respondent enabling linkages relatively easy to control only one person to take through the interview process and questions

Interviews

Group Interviews can be difficult getting four to six people together many voices contributing important for interviewees to interact may reveal consensus views and generate richer responses enables respondent views to be challenged can be used to verify information obtained elsewhere certain members may dominate or struggle to get heard gender issues may be a problem acceptable opinions may be expressed

Interviews

Focus Groups
very popular in recent years particularly used by advertising agencies, market researchers and political parties usually six to ten members brought together by a moderator useful for exploring feelings, attitudes, experiences usually an opening prompt or stimulus introduced by the moderator to start the discussion moderator does not need to be strictly neutral interaction between group members is important difficult to record some members may be extrovert and dominating or introverted and quiet

Interviews

Interviewer Bias the comments, tone or non-verbal behaviour of the interviewer creates bias in the way interviewees respond to the questions the interviewer may impose own beliefs and reference frames through the questions asked may demonstrate bias in the way responses are interpreted the interviewee may not trust the interviewer interviewer credibility is lacking

Interviews

Interviewee or Response Bias


may be caused by perceptions about the interviewer or in relation to perceived interviewer bias taking part in an interview is intrusive, such that an interviewee may be willing to participate but is sensitive to in-depth exploration of certain themes or issues interviewees may skillfully not reveal true feelings and effectively provide a partial picture

Interviews

Considerations interviewer preparation and readiness level of information supplied to interviewees interviewer appearance nature of opening comments approach to questioning impact of interviewer behaviour during the interview (posture, tone of voice, avoiding anxiety, disbelief) interviewer listening skills interviewer scope to test understanding approaches to recording information

Interviews

Interview Planning agenda planning and topics for discussion selection of people for interview (likely to be nonprobability sampling and for groups to get a cross-section of opinion or ensure different views) authorisation or approval to proceed (manager approval, protection of children, etc.); need to demonstrate trustworthy and capable arranging venue and agreeing length of time recording (memory is unreliable) - notes, tape recording (check equipment works in advance)

Interviews

Interview Skills need to listen closely and be attentive (also look for nonverbal communication) be sensitive to respondent feelings (you will get more information) silences are useful - know when to say nothing use prompts to encourage speaking and to probe summarise to check with respondent in groups let everyone have their say be non-judgemental and respect interviewee rights

Interviews

Probing, Prompting and Checking


Remain silent Repeating the question Prompt Prompt

Repeating last words of interviewee Prompt Offering examples Ask for an example Ask for clarification Ask for further details Summarising thoughts Prompt Probe Probe Probe Check

Interviews

Undertaking the Interview


introduction and formalities (setting tone, trust and rapport) starting with a settling down question to relax interviewee and stimulate discreet monitoring of progress identify main points made by interviewee (or consensus in a group) reading between the lines and feeling for context inconsistencies to be probed if possible clues as to boasting or pleasing or fobbing off non-verbal communication finishing in an orderly way with interviewee having chance to raise any points and courtesies

Interviews

Questioning open questions allow interviewees to define and describe, and encourage to extend and develop answers :
how has corporate strategy changed over the last five years? why did the company introduce its marketing strategy?

probing questions explore responses of research significance, requesting a particular focus or direction:
what external factors caused the corporate strategy to change? how would you evaluate the success of the new marketing strategy? that is interestingtell me more about

encourage without offering judgement or a view

Interviews

Questioning
specific questions are used to obtain particular information, to confirm a fact or opinion:
how many people responded to the customer survey?

a closed question seeks a yes or no answer:


did you say that the new building opens on 25 November?

Interviews

Recording Information need to record the interview either at the time or soon after its occurrence in order to control for bias and produce reliable data for analysis transcribing audio tapes is very time consuming but an essential part of the method recorded talk is not easy to hear checking transcripts with interviewees (putting the record straight) triangulation with observations and documents

Interviews

Advantages of Interviews information depth (topics probed) insights requires only simple equipment good at producing data based on interviewee priorities, opinions and ideas flexible (lines of enquiry can be adjusted) validity directly checkable high response rate rewarding experience

Interviews

Disadvantages of Interviews very time consuming especially data analysis can produce non-standard responses consistency and objectivity hard to achieve due to interviewer impact and context, affecting reliability interviewer effects; data based on what people say not what they do inhibitions invasion of privacy resources needed