FULL TUTORIAL ON USE OF INTERVIEWS TO COLLECT DATA IN RESEARCH

8 advantages of interview as data collection tool in research

Table of Contents




what is interview in research?

An interview is a conversation between two or more people where questions are asked by the interviewer to elicit facts or statements from the interviewee

An interview is a conversation between two or more people where questions are asked by the interviewer to elicit facts or statements from the interviewee

Interviews techniques have the following advantages:

  • Insights : The researcher is likely to gain valuable insights based on the depth of the information gathered and the wisdom of “key informants”.
  • Equipment: Interviews require only simple equipment and build on conversation skills, which researchers already have
  • Information Priorities: Interviews are a good method for producing data based on the informant’s priorities, opinions, and ideas. Informants have the opportunity to expand their ideas, explain their views and identify what regard as their crucial factors.
Information Priorities: Interviews are a good method for producing data based on the informant’s priorities, opinions, and ideas. Informants have the opportunity to expand their ideas, explain their views and identify what regard as their crucial factors




  • Flexibility: Interviews are more flexible as a method of data collection. During adjustments to the line of inquiry can be made.
  • Validity: Direct contact at the point of the interview means that data can be checked for accuracy and relevance as they are collected.
  • High response rate: Interviews are generally pre-arranged and scheduled for a convenient time and location. This ensures a relatively high response rate.
High response rate: Interviews are generally pre-arranged and scheduled for a convenient time and location. This ensures a relatively high response rate
  • Therapeutic: Interviews can be a rewarding experience for the informant, compared with questionnaires, observation, and experiments, there is a more personal element to the method and people end to enjoy the rather rare chance to talk about their ideas at length to a person whose purpose is to listen and note the ideas without being critical.
  • Depth Information Interviews are particularly good at producing data that deal with topics in-depth and in detail. Subjects can be probed, issues pursued, lines of investigation followed over a relatively long period.

disadvantages of interview as data collection tool in research

  • Time Consuming: Analysis of data can be difficult and time-consuming. Data preparation and analysis are “end-loaded” compared with, for instance, questionnaires, which are preceded and where data are ready for analysis once they have collected. The transcribing and coding of interview data is a major task for the researcher which occurs after the data have been collected
  • Difficulty in data analysis: This method produces non-standard responses. Semi-structured and unstructured interviews produce data that are not pre-coded and have a relatively open format.
  • Less Reliability: Consistency and objectivity are hard to achieve. The data collected are, to an extent, unique owing to the specific content and the specific individuals involved. This has an adverse effect on reliability.
  • Interviewer Effect: The identity of the researcher may affect the statements of the interviewee. They may say what they do or what they prefer to do. The two may not tally.
  • Inhibitions: The tape recorder or video recorder may inhibit the respondent. The interview is an artificial situation where people are speaking and recorded on a tape recorder and this can be daunting for certain kinds of people.
  • Invasion of Privacy: Interviewing can be an invasion of privacy and may be upsetting for the informant.
  • Resources: The cost of the interviewer’s fine, of travel, and of transcription can be relatively high if the informants are geographically widespread.

types of interviews in research data collection

Structured Interview

A structured interview involves tight control over the format of questions and answers. It is like a questionnaire that is administered face to face with a respondent. The researcher has a predetermined list of questions. Each respondent is faced with identical questions. The choice of alternative answers is restricted to a predetermined list.

This type of interview is rigidly standardized and formal. Structured interviews are often associated with social surveys where researchers are trying to collect large volumes of data from a wide range of respondents

Semi-Structured Interview

In a semi-structured interview, the interviewer also has a clear list of issues to be addressed and questions to be answered. There is some flexibility in the order of the topics. This type of interviewee is given the chance to develop his ideas and speak more widely on the issues raised by the researcher. The answers are open-ended and more emphasis is on the interviewee elaborating points of interest.

Unstructured Interview

In the case of an unstructured interview, emphasis is placed on the interviewee’s thoughts. The role of the researcher is to be as unintuitive as possible. The researcher introduces a theme or topic and then lets the interviewee develop his or her ideas and pursue his or her train of thought. Allowing interviewees to speak their minds is a better way of discovering things about complex issues. It gives an opportunity for in-depth investigations.

Single Interview

This is a common form of a semi-structured or unstructured interview. It involves a meeting between one researcher and one informant. It is easy to arrange this type of interview. It helps the researcher to locate specific ideas with specific people. It is also easy to control the situation in the part of the interviewer.

Group Interview

In the case of group interviews, more than one informant is involved. The numbers involved normally about four to six people. Here you may think that it is difficult to get people together to discuss matters on one occasion and how many voices can contribute to the discussion during any one interview. But the crucial thing to bear in mind here is that a group interview is not an opportunity for the researcher to question a sequence of individuals, taking turns around a table.

‘Group’ is crucial here, because it tells us that those present in the interview will interact with one another and that the discussion will operate at the level of the group. They can present a wide range of information and varied viewpoints. 

factors that need to be determined in advance of the actual interview

  • Purpose and information needed should be clear.
  • Which type of interview best suited for the purpose should be decided.
  • A clear outline and framework should be systematically prepared.
  • Planning should be done for recording responses.

factors to be considered during Execution of the Interview :

  • Rapport should be established.
  • Described information should be collected with a stimulating and encouraging discussion.
  • The recording device should be leased without distracting the interviewee.

factors to be considered when Recording and Interpreting interview Responses :

  • It is best to record through a tape recorder.
  • If the response is to be noted down, it should be either noted simultaneously or immediately after it.
  • Instead of recording responses, sometimes the researcher noted the evaluation directly interpreting the responses.
High response rate: Interviews are generally pre-arranged and scheduled for a convenient time and location. This ensures a relatively high response rate
%d bloggers like this: