When are Interviews Appropriate?
Interview Pro's and Con's
- Allows interviewer to ask follow-up questions.
- Allows participant to describe what is important to him or her in their own words.
- May provide information about a person’s rationale or thought process and decision making.
- May provide context to data from other sources.
- May be more intrusive than other methods.
- Requires skill and experience on the part of the interviewer.
- Time-intensive (setting up the interview, conducting, transcribing, analyzing data).
- May require travel if done in person; a person’s narrative may not conform to the reality of a situation.
Unlike conversations, interviews require that the interviewer be in charge of the conversation. The emphasis is on understanding the issue or topic (the research questions or focus of the evaluation).
Qualitative verses Quantitative Data
There are several differences between qualitative interview data and quantitative data.
Here are some characteristics of qualitative interview data:
- Focuses on meanings rather than on quantifiable phenomena
- Has a goal of “rich descriptions” of the subject of study rather than measurement of specific variables
- Collects a large amount of data from a few subjects rather than a small amount of data from many subjects
- Entails a study in depth and detailed, often without pre-determined measures or hypotheses, rather than emphasizing analyses and categories determined in advance
- Employs the role of the researcher as an “instrument,” rather than as the designer of objective instruments to measure particular variables
- Pays attention to the impact of the researcher’s and others’ values on the course of the analysis rather than presuming the possibility of value-free (unbiased) inquiry
- Is sensitive to context rather than seeking universal generalizations