An interview is a qualitative research approach in which data is collected by asking questions. Two or more people are involved in an interview, one of them is the interviewer who asks the questions.

There are various sorts of interviews, which are often distinguished by their structure. Planned questions are asked in a predetermined order during structured interviews. Semi-structured interviews are in between unstructured and structured interviews.

In market research, social science, and ethnographic research, interviews are frequently employed.

What is the definition of a structured interview?

Predetermined questions are asked in a specific order in structured interviews. They are frequently closed-ended, with multiple-choice or dichotomous (yes/no) questions. Although open-ended organized interviews are possible, they are uncommon. Structured interviews are primarily a quantitative tool due to the types of questions answered.

Asking a series of questions in a specific order can help you spot trends in responses and compare responses amongst participants while keeping other variables constant. This can help to reduce biases and improve reliability and validity. Structured interviews, on the other hand, might be extremely formal, with limited scope and flexibility.

Structured interviews may be a good fit for your research if you have the following criteria:

• You’re at ease discussing your subject. This will aid in the most efficient formulation of your questions.

• You’re short on time or money. Because of their closed-ended nature, structured interviews are easier to analyze and might be a manageable task for a single person.

• Maintaining constant environmental conditions between participants is critical to your study question.

What is the definition of a semi-structured interview?

Structured and unstructured interviews are combined in semi-structured interviews. While the interviewer has a rough idea of what they want to ask, the questions do not have to be phrased or ordered in a specific way.

Semi-structured interviews are frequently open-ended, allowing for flexibility, yet they are organized around a preset topic framework. As a result, they’re frequently referred to as “the best of both worlds.”

However, if the questions differ significantly amongst participants, finding patterns can be difficult, reducing the generalizability and validity of your findings.

If:

• You’ve conducted interviews before. When coming up with questions on the fly, it’s easier than you think to ask a leading inquiry. In general, impromptu queries are far more challenging than they appear.

• The nature of your research question is exploratory. The responses you obtain may be useful in directing your future studies.

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What is the definition of an unstructured interview?

The most adaptable sort of interview is the unstructured interview. The order in which the questions are asked is not predetermined. Instead, based on the participant’s previous responses, the interview can proceed more naturally.

By definition, unstructured interviews are open-ended. This adaptability can help you collect extensive information on your subject while still allowing you to spot patterns among participants.

However, because of their versatility, they might be difficult to execute well. Leading questions should be avoided at all costs, as biased responses might lead to reduced dependability or even invalidation of your research.

Unstructured interviews may be appropriate for your study if:

• You have extensive knowledge of your study issue and have conducted interviews previously.

• Your research topic is exploratory, and you’re looking for descriptive data to help you flesh out and contextualize your early thoughts.

• Your study needs establishing a stronger bond with your participants, encouraging them to share their actual feelings and thoughts.

What does a focus group entail?

In a moderated setting, a focus group brings together a group of individuals to answer questions on a topic of interest. Focus groups are qualitative in nature, and they frequently examine the dynamics and body language of the group in addition to their responses. Future study on consumer products and services, human behavior, and controversial themes may be guided by the responses.

Focus groups are easier to organize than experiments or large surveys and can provide more nuanced and unedited feedback than individual interviews. Their tiny size, on the other hand, results in low external validity and the temptation for researchers to “cherry-pick” replies that meet their theories.

If your research calls for it, a focus group can be a good fit.

• The dynamics of group conversation or real-time answers to your issue are the focus of your research.

• Your questions are difficult to answer because they are based on sentiments, ideas, and perceptions that cannot be addressed with a simple “yes” or “no.”

• Your study topic is exploratory in nature, and you’re looking for knowledge to help you come up with fresh questions or research ideas.

Interview questions examples

Your questions will vary in style, phrasing, and intent depending on the type of interview you’re conducting. Structured interview questions are predetermined and exact, but other interview kinds are more open-ended and flexible.

Here are some illustrations.

• Structured

• Semi-structured

• Unstructured

• Discussion group

• Are you a dog lover? Yes/No

• Do you link dogs with pleasant, somewhat happy, neutral, dissatisfied, or unhappy feelings?

Interview advantages and disadvantages

Interviews are a fantastic way to gather information. They enable you to collect more extensive data and develop more precise conclusions than other research methods by taking into account nonverbal cues, spontaneous emotions, and emotional responses.

They can, however, be time-consuming and surprisingly difficult to carry out successfully. Smaller sample sizes can compromise validity and reliability, and the danger of interviewer effect from mistakenly guiding questions is always there.

Here are some benefits and drawbacks of each sort of interview to assist you decide whether or not to use this research approach.

Interview advantages and disadvantages

Advantages of each interview type

Disadvantages

• Can be utilized for quantitative research with a structured interview

• It is possible to compare data.

• High validity and reliability

• Saves both the interviewer and the respondent time.

• The researcher is unable to ask clarifying or nuanced questions.

• Limited scope: you may miss out on useful information.

• People may be forced to accept the “best fit” option due to the limited answer possibilities.

• Can be utilized in quantitative research as a semi-structured interview

• Validity is rather high

• More questions can be asked if necessary • Lower validity than a structured interview

• To get the most out of the interview, you’ll need solid conversational skills.

• Preparation takes a long time.

• You can ask more questions if necessary in an unstructured interview.

• Participants may feel more at ease.

• You may gather detailed, qualitative information.

• Low reliability and validity • Can be utilized if little is known about the topic

• To keep the interview going, you’ll need strong conversational abilities.

• It’s easy to get distracted.

• Data comparison is difficult

• Preparation takes a long time.

• Efficient method because numerous people are interviewed at once in a focus group

• Respondents are usually more relaxed.

• Relatively inexpensive

• It’s easier to talk about challenging topics.

• Due to time limits, you may only ask a limited amount of questions.

• You must have excellent communication and leadership abilities.

• A higher likelihood of social desirability bias exists.

• Because there are numerous people present, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.