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The interview is a research method that needs thorough planning and exceptional knowledge of the special techniques. Moreover, competence, neutrality, and tactfulness are crucial elements of an interview. Interviewers must be proficient not only in their fields but also in psychology. Although this method may contribute to a detailed understanding of the situation or phenomenon being researched, its appropriateness significantly depends on context.
Firstly, the outcomes of an interview depend predominantly on the questions that researchers ask. For instance, qualitative and quantitative questions result in entirely different reflections. The quantitative method includes a prepared set of answers, while the qualitative approach lets the respondents provide broader perspectives (Doody & Noonan, 2013). Responses can be more or less subjective, and the questioner should know how to regulate this subjectivity.
Researchers classify interviews as structured, unstructured, and semi-structured. (Doody & Noonan, 2013). Structured interviews have a set protocol of questions, while unstructured and semi-structured interviews comprise open questions on which the respondent should reflect. Various contexts need different types of questions, which can be set or situational.
Secondly, a competent questioner is to understand the difference between interviewees’ words and their thought processes. For example, if research demands the full understanding of one’s environment and thoughts, it is to contain “why” and “how” questions. The interviewer should learn to capture the respondent’s thinking process as fully as possible. Therefore, the conversation the aim of which is to reveal the broader context should include core and related questions, which are later subject to improvement through pilot testing (Jamshed, 2014). The recording method is also essential to the interview outcomes as it allows the questioner to detect verbal signals and interpret them. Interview preparation, process, and deciphering should take into account the complexity and potential ambiguity of one’s thoughts.
Importantly, experts involved in interviewing consider both interview planning and its deciphering. Proper interview planning depends on the number of tools that are available to researchers. These instruments largely depend on the questioners’ knowledge of trends and advancements in the field. For instance, such approaches as a perceptual map technique can help inquirer identify the preferences of potential customers and understand the targeted audience of a product better.
The perceptual map fosters goal-oriented thinking and creates a reference frame that makes communication between interviewer and respondent clearer (Mojtahed, Nunes, Martins, & Peng, 2014). Interview planning and deciphering cannot be done without a good knowledge of models.
However, the knowledge of various research methods is not enough for conducting an informative and successful interview. Analysts need a deep understanding of psychology to communicate with interviewees. Being empathic and critical can contribute to obtaining more detailed and confident answers from respondents. Talking with participants about the present instead of concentrating on future or past may encourage the interviewees to feel more confident and speak more freely” (Doody & Noonan, 2013). It is important to remember that some questions make people more defensive while others encourage them to speak freely.
To conclude, interviewing is a challenging process that needs a multi-faceted approach. Researches should take into account such factors as the psychological environment of the interview, decision-making models, and verbal indicators of participant’s feelings and thoughts. Interviewers are expected to choose the appropriate interview type in accordance to research context and goals. Despite its popularity, the interview method is rather complicated and challenging as it needs constant training of interviewers.
Doody, O., Noonan, M. (2013). Preparing and conducting interviews to collect data. Nurse Researcher, 20(5), 28-32.
Jamshed, S. (2014). Qualitative research method-interviewing and observation. Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacy, 5(4), 87-88.
Mojtahed, R., Nunes, M. B., Martins, J. T., & Peng, A. (2014). Equipping the constructivist researcher: The combined use of semi-structured interviews and decision-making maps. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 12(2), 87-95.