2.3 Interviews:In-depth and group

There are different kinds of research interviews. They range from informal chats to formal conversations.

  • Some are structured - where you have a fixed list of questions that you ask everyone you interview.
  • Some are unstructured - where you might have a range of topics in mind, but you want to see where the conversation takes you.
  • Some are semi-structured - where you have a topic to explore and a list of some questions that you want to try to cover with all the people you interview. Your aim is to guide the conversation while encouraging the interviewee to tell their own story in their own words. You will be open to exploring unexpected topics if they emerge.

EAR researchers generally use semi-structured interviews. They will often last between one and two hours, so that you can get into some depth. Although you will have topics and questions that you want to cover, many of your questions will be responses to what the interviewee has actually said, and if this proves to be a useful avenue of inquiry for your research purpose, you might adapt your interview schedule as you go along and as you learn more from those you are interviewing.