A research interview is a verbal conversation between two parties conducted with the aim of collecting relevant data for research purposes. Research interviews can be particularly instrumental in getting the story behind the interviewee/participants experiences. Here, the interviewer seeks in-depth information concerning the topic of interest and can use the research as a follow-up to different respondents i.e. to further investigate on their responses. Often, open-ended questions are used during the interview.
Conducting a research interview is not easy as it seems; before you start designing the interview questions and process, it’s prudent that you first articulate to yourself what problem is to be addressed and how the information of the interview is to be used. Follow the tips below to successfully conduct an interview for research.
Choosing the Interview Setting
Choosing a suitable environment for a research interview is just more than the traditional empty room- there is plenty of things to be considered. While the choice of a particular location is likely to be influenced by the culture and ethics of your organization, employing some creativity can ensure that you capitalize from the respondent.
For example, if you’re in the creative sector, say the media, perhaps you’re likely to consider interviewing the respondents in a more-lounge atmosphere, with cushy seat, rather than a closed cell-like office with two chairs and a table.
Building a Rapport
When conducting a research interview, keep in mind that the respondents have offered their precious time to schedule a research with you. Therefore, as an interviewer, you should extend the professional respect. This includes arriving on time, politely acknowledging their presence and dressing appropriately.
Other than that, the interviewer should enhance the receptiveness of the respondent by making them believe that their responses are beneficial to the research process, and will be taken into consideration. Finally, assure the respondent that the interview is going to be a pleasure rather than an ordeal.
From a research analysis perspective, probing questions are more effective in getting more information from the respondents without pushing them to the corner. Unlike other fact-finding techniques, probing not only just clarifies specific details, but the probing questions also dig deeper than the surface.
An effective probing question can get the respondents to express themselves more about their experiences, and talk more about their personal opinions or feelings. A probing question can even elicit critical thinking. A typical probing question begins with statements like, “What if,” “what was,” “what did,” “how did,” and “when did.”
However, try as much as possible to avoid the “why “questions as they infer a cause-effect relationship that may not truly exist. Additionally, they may cause the respondent to feel on the defensive side since they have to justify why they did or did not take action.
The interviewer is at liberty of either writing the responses during the interview or after the interview. However, before the interview, an interviewer can ask the respondent whether the session can be recorded. If the respondent agrees, an audio or visual aid can be used to record all the answers. Alternatively, the interviewer can jot down notes during the interview.
Confirm and Clarify
Before closing the session, it’s crucial for the interviewer to clarify all the details. Such details include the name of people, the name of places, dates, and time. Additionally, for any topic discussed during the session, it’s vital that the interviewer clarifies all the ambiguous points, and removes the clutter from the recorded information to ensure that accuracy and precision prevail the whole process.
Closing The Research Interview
Figuring how to close a research interview can be a tricky affair. As the interview comes to a close, you can bring it to a graceful close using the following steps.
- Provide the client with an opportunity to ask any questions regarding the interview.
- Inform the candidate what will happen next, i.e. where the research questions will be taken and how they will be used.
- End the interview on a sincere but formal note. Thank the candidate, and repeat your commitment to follow up to the clause. Give the respondent a firm handshake as a sign of gratitude and end of the interview as you walk them from the room.