Step 3: Conduct the Interview
Interviews may be in person, on the telephone, or via internet.
- Pilot-test the questions before you begin collecting data.
- Know your biases and preconceptions; try to avoid letting them influence how you ask questions. In any case, your role as the researcher along with any potential biases should be fully disclosed in the write up that results from the interviews.
- Decide ahead of time whether you will take notes, audiotape, or do both.
- Schedule the interview for a specific time and be aware of timing throughout the interview. Keep track of the time for recording the length of each interview and to stay on time.
- Develop instructions to follow for each interview to make sure that there is consistency between interviews.
- Begin with a brief introduction to the purpose of the interview, information on informed consent, and how the data will be used.
- Ensure there is an adequate pause after each question is asked to allow interviewees enough time to respond. Silence is important to enable the person to reflect on their response.
- At the end it can be useful to ask the participant if they have anything they want to add and then thank the person for their contribution.
- If you are interviewing in person or via video conference, remember tone and body language can be just as important as the words you are speaking.
- It is important to develop rapport with the respondents but do not allow yourself to agree or disagree with their responses.
- If you are interviewing in person or via video conference, make sure you are dressed appropriately—which means not wearing a suit when everyone else is in jeans or vice versa. You don’t want to appear intimidating or present yourself in a position of authority. If appropriate, bring food. Really, it helps.
- After conducting the interview, give yourself time to complete any notes made during the session. When scheduling interviews be sure to leave time to transcribe the responses immediately following each interview.