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  2. Understand your audience
  3. Research methods
  4. Overview of Research Methods
  5. Interviews
  6. Conducting


How to do it?

Interviewing can be divided in four main stages: the pre-interview stage; the opening of the interview; the core of the interview; and closing the interview. Next, important aspects to consider and keep in mind are presented for each stage.


Pre-interview stage

Before the actual interview, interviewees should have:

  • A clear idea of what is expected by them.
  • Basic information about the purpose of the interview and the research project of which it is a part.
  • Some idea of the probable length of the interview and that it will be recorded (if applicable).
  • Information about incentive for their collaboration (if applicable).
  • A clear idea of where and when the interview will take place.



Opening of the interview

Before starting the interview, one should set up the room and the recording equipment in advance, ensuring privacy and comfort. It is important to make sure that the recording equipment is working properly.
When starting the interview, the following activities should be performed:

  • Offer thanks, a welcome and introduce to each other.
  • Attend to the interviewee comfort.
  • Explain the purpose of the interview.
  • Explain the required answer format.
  • Discuss anonymity and confidentiality issues.
  • Mention an incentive or reward for taking part (if applicable).
  • Give an estimate of how long the interview will take to completion.
  • Explain why is preferable to record the interview and ask for permission (if applicable).
  • Request signing of the consent form.
  • Provide opportunity to ask questions.
  • Start the interview with an easy, open-ended question.



Core of the interview

While interviewing, it is important to keep in mind the following aspects:

  • Begin with the more general and interesting questions, even when introducing a new topic. Specific questions may establish a tendency to respond in a particular way, that then influences subsequent answers. It is also a way to engage the interest and attention of the interviewee.
  • Questions that might be more challenging or complicated are better asked early. The easy questions can be placed at the end when fatigue is more likely.
  • Try to move the interview at a pace that is rapid enough to retain interest, but slow enough to allow adequate coverage of the topics.
  • Allow enough time for the interviewee to answer. If an answer is not forthcoming, a reformulation of the question may be appropriate.
  • Show an attentive but nonjudgmental interest.
  • Be short while talking and avoid sequential questioning.
  • Always maintain a profession relationship during the interview.
  • Avoid expressing opinions in response to the interviewee’s answers.
  • Avoid making spontaneous comments.
  • Avoid mentioning personal experiences or engage in business relations with the interviewee.
  • Make use of good probing. Listen carefully to the interviewee’s attempts to provide the appropriate answer and try, without becoming directive, to guide in on the fitting answer.
  • Refrain from promoting certain causes and opinions.
  • Do not introduce an assumption before posing a question and avoid leading questions.
  • Be consistent in recording answers.
  • Attend and record non-verbal aspects of the answers that seem relevant.



Closing the interview

When closing the interview, the following activities should be performed:

  • Summarize the interview
  • Offer to answer questions
  • Explain how the results will be used, and where and when they will be available
  • Provide further information or possible sources of information (if needed)
  • Check that the interviewee had a good experience
  • Provide information about any follow-ups (if applicable)
  • Reiterate thanks and express appreciation



Methods selection decision aid

Take this short quiz to learn what are the best 3 methods to understand your audience and answer your research question(s).