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Using interviews

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Use this page to learn about what types of interviews there what to consider when running interviews.

Defining interviews

An interview is a conversation to help with building further knowledge about a particular subject area.

It’s a chance for the researcher to learn more about a given topic area to help answer a question.

They can be:

  • held with an individual or group
  • completed face-to-face, over the phone or online.

You can use interviews to complement other participatory tools including surveys.

Interview checklist

  • Carefully choose your interviewer considering their knowledge about the topic, communication and organisational skills.
  • Organise the date, time and venue.
  • Provide a brief guide to the person/group being interviewed about the topics that will be covered and explain the purpose of the interview.
  • Confirm attendance of the person/people being interviewed.
  • Plan the structure of the interview including mentioning the topic of the interview, key information.
  • Receiving permission to take notes/record the interview and mentioning confidentiality and considering GDPR.
  • Be aware of the way the questions are worded. Considering bias, whether previous knowledge is required, accessible language is used, and sensitivity to different identity characteristics is respected.
  • Make sure questions flow from one to the other.
  • Listen actively, write down key points and make sure you remain neutral.
  • Clarify key points.
  • Share how and when you’ll share the findings of the interview.
  • Take responsibility for issues raised in the interview and make sure the person/people being interviewed are provided with access to any support.
  • In group interviews, understand the dynamic between the interviewer and the person/group being interviewed and make sure you’re able to hear the views expressed by everyone involved.

Advantages of interviews

  • Flexibility: You can choose a time and place that suits the person or group being interviewed
  • There’s an opportunity to find out more: You’re able to ask questions and check in on discussions. You can pick up on body language which may provide interesting data in itself, for example.

Disadvantages of interviews

They can:

  • be time-consuming to run and to analyse
  • be costly as it requires more time from the person being interviewed
  • introduce bias (for example, the respondent’s answers can be affected by the interviewer).

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 31 March 2023

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