How to Prepare for a Research Interview

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Interview is a popular form of data collection in qualitative research. The biggest advantage of interviews is that any misunderstanding can be cleared at the spot and doubts can be asked by either side. Interviews are also time-consuming. Careful planning is involved and there are problems about reliability, validity and bias. While planning for an interview, the following checklist should be considered:

- Decide on the type of interview i.e. structured, unstructured, face-to-face or group interview.

- Decide on how you want to choose your potential interviewees. Select them carefully and make sure they know all details about the study. Confidentiality should be maintained if you have promised it. Make them aware of the format and structure of interview.

- Plan on what questions you want to ask. You may ask them in sequence or in a free flow manner if it is an unstructured interview. The number of questions to be included and what type has to be decided early.

- Pick a calm and peaceful environment to avoid distractions. The participants should feel comfortable in there.

- Avoid long interviews as participants are likely to skip it. Keep it of the same length as told by you to your participants.

- Keep the terminology of the questions in accordance with your target participants. Use common language instead of specialized terminology.

- Be clear on what type of information you require. It may range from personal (education, marital status) to opinion (views about any subject). It will help form questions in a logical manner and thereby, making interpretation easy.

- Test the questions on a small audience first so you can find the loopholes within it and correct it before conducting the main interview. It will also help you remove vague questions.

- Decide on the method of recording the information. Example: video recorder, notebook, tape recorder, etc. Use a video recorder only if your participants are comfortable with it.

- Lastly, keep fully recorded sheets explaining the process of your interview from start to finish. It should mention the interview type, questions type, how you chose the participants and how you recorded responses. They will form a major part of your methodology section.