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How To Conduct Interviews in Qualitative Research

Andrew Russo
Andrew Russo
Posted in Zoom Sep 5 · 7 Sep, 2022
How To Conduct Interviews in Qualitative Research

Qualitative research interviews are in-depth interviews that aim to answer detailed questions from customers or leads. It’s a more personal form of research that seeks to probe deep into the minds of the interview participant. This also elicits a better and more valuable discussion of the topic. 

What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative interviews? 

While quantitative interviews usually measure data, qualitative focus on the ideas, beliefs, and mindsets of people. Most research interviews give business insights into how their consumer react or make decisions about their product or service. 

Business owners benefit from qualitative research interviews by identifying their customer needs. Through qualitative research, businesses can gain perspective on how their service or product benefits their customer’s lifestyles. It also helps them clarify important marketing messages to generate ideas for improvement for their product or brand. 

Qualitative research interviews include open-ended questions that invite people to their stories using their own words.  The following are some things qualitative research can give insight about:

  • Consumer behavior for improving business decisions
  • The social reality of people in a group or culture 

Formatting of Qualitative Research Interviews 

Qualitative research interviews are usually done one-on-one or in focus groups. The interview often revolves around the interviewee’s opinion, knowledge, and feelings about the subject. Most qualitative research interviews are in person, but there are also interviews that are made over the phone or through video chat.  They usually span around 30 to 90 minutes. 

Conducting Qualitative Research Interviews 

Qualitative interviews are similar to deep conversations. The interviewer and interviewee have a conversation about a topic with the goal of gathering information and insight from the respondent. The questions are open-ended and often require participants to use their own words and phrases. 

Step 1: Identifying Your Objective

Before performing any interview, the interviewer must first have goals for the project. The goals or objectives will often be based on questions that should be answered. Here are examples of questions to find your objectives for the interview: 

  • Who is your target respondent?
  • What is it that you’d like to learn?
  • How would you use the results?

The first step is simply the preparation stage that will help guide your future steps. But it will dictate the success of the next steps.  

Step 2: Listing Your Target Respondents 

Once you’ve defined your objectives, the next step is to determine your respondents. Research interviews with clients or customers are the easiest as most companies already have a database list of their customers’ email, names, and phone numbers. If you wish to interview strangers or non-customers, the process will take more time and will be more costly since you have no prior relationship with the people you want to interview. 

Step 3: Prepare Yourself Before the Interview 

Preparation is important for every interview. Successful planning and consideration of everyone involved is key to having informative and valuable results. If you’re interviewing someone and you’ll have to discuss a subject, a deep reading about the topic will help you develop great questions that will improve the overall experience of your interview. 

If you’re conducting a qualitative interview, you should test your equipment such as your recording tools and other gadgets that will be used. The important thing to remember is that the location, time, and tools used shouldn’t affect data collection. 

Step 4: Do a Test Run  

Have a few test interviews to help you improve your questions and interview techniques. If you’re doing a study, this will be helpful in improving the quality of the research. Data from test interviews are often discarded since they aren’t very useful. It’s important to have a few test interviews to create a better and less biased result later on. 

Step 5: Build rapport with your interviewees

Building rapport with your respondents is very important before and after the interview. The reason many interviews fail is that the respondent doesn’t trust the interviewer that much to reveal information. If it’s an interview with a single person that will be publicized, it helps if you draft a short summary of your questions to inform the person what you’ll be talking about in the interview. 

Step 6: Be prepared to listen 

When you’re interviewing someone you have to show that you respect them and remain interested in what they have to say. Active listening is something many people have struggled with, unfortunately, even interviewers. There are many novice interviewers who often talk a lot during conversations. This can be caused by nervousness or lack of experience.  

To actively listen is to respect your respondent. It helps them think more about their answers which can then help you gain open and honest interview results. 

Other Important Research Interview Tips 

  • Make sure all questions given are understandable and clear. Review all questions you have before the interview itself. Always carry a list of questions that you have to ask during the interview. 
  • Let the respondents know the purpose of the interview. The respondents have the right to know the nature of the interview and what the results are going to be used for. 
  • Ask to clarify and repeat answers if you don’t understand them. Never assume answers from the people you interview. 
  • Avoid irrelevant discussions. It’s okay to stray away from the topic, but always try to inform your respondent that the interview should be focused on a certain topic. 
  • Keep it short. Make interviews short, just around an hour or two. 
  • Summarize the interview. After the interview, do a short summary of the points you’ve covered and asked for during the course of the interview. 

How To Analyze Qualitative Interview Data

Most analysis of qualitative interview data begins with reviewing transcripts of the interviews. Transcripts can be obtained by taking notes during the interview or recording the interview with a digital device and transcribing it afterward. Transcripts give you a written copy of the interview word for word. Transcripts also include non-verbal gestures and tone of voice that allow the interview to be reviewed more accurately later on.