What do Interviews in Data Collection Entail?
Interviews as common data collection methods encompass providing the participants with oral questions in either qualitative or quantitative form.
When using interviews, you should require the respondents to provide oral answers to the questions, and then go ahead to record the answers, to be later sorted and appropriately grouped.
Interviews are generally considered more appropriate when seeking to collect qualitative data. As such, forms of qualitative interviews that you could opt for include:
a) Standardized open-ended interviews: these are more structured and are guided by a specific procedure when asking questions and probing.
This category of interviews is considered quite rigid and more formal.
Per se, when using such interviews, you are usually restrained from making changes to the interview questions and their respective sequence.
b) Semi-structured interviews: these interviews are less structured and encompass a list of topics to be covered; however, you are allowed the discretion to change the questions’ wording and sequence.
They generally allow considerable freedom, which is sometimes an advantage in different situations.
c) Informal conversation interviews: they are least structured, where topics to be covered are spontaneously arrived at as the interview unfolds.
In this, you have absolute freedom on how to conduct the interview.
When do I need to Use Interviews in Data Collection?
Interviews are widely used in research for data collection purposes.
Similar to questionnaires, quantitative questions are exclusively closed-ended, demand specific answers from a category of options, and derive data that is usually analyzed numerically.
On the other hand, qualitative questions encompass open-ended questions that provide the respondent with the freedom to express their opinions in their own words.
All this considered, various reasons make interviews suitable for data collection in research studies. They include:
a) When you need to make observations: Interviews are very effective data collection tools when your research intends to make specific observations.
They provide an opportunity to interact directly with the respondents.
Notably, this is key in enhancing a wholesome assessment of the phenomenon under study, as you can study both the cognitive and affective elements of interviewee’s responses.
b) When you need direct feedback: Interviews are effective in cases where you require the interviewee’s direct feedback.
They help develop an environment that facilitates a direct exchange between you and the interviewee.
In this, they ensure that answers secured are provided by the right person, where the interviewee could be probed for more clarification and detailed responses.
For this reason, more specific data can be derived from these tools.
c) When flexibility is necessary: Interviews are very flexible in their administration.
In particular, the interviews site should not be a major issue sinceit is possible to conduct interviews in different locations.
You can arrange to conduct the interviews at your place of work, the interviewee’s place of convenience, or a neutral location.
As well as, it is possible to arrange for interviews during a preferable time.
This can help adjust them to suit the schedules of different individuals, either you or the interviewee.
More so, they can also be modified to explore ideas not covered by the current research study.
This is because their flexibility in research questions gives you room to go beyond the specific areas of the phenomenon currently under study.
d) When there is need for rich data: Interviews are quite expansive in nature.
They allow respondents to provide detailed information about their experiences.
Data can be collected from the respondents’ explicit answers as well as their body language.
This makes it possible to gather voluminous data that is beyond the anticipated parameters.
Since it is personal in nature, it makes it possible for you to access personal information from the interviewee.
What Steps do I Follow when Conducting Interviews?
Different approaches could be adopted when conducting interviews. Regarding this, common steps entailed in the interview process include:
a) Evaluating the type of data you want to gather: this a very important step since it affects the relevancy of data collected.
Principally, it looks at such data elements as whether it should be qualitative or quantitative.
This step entails reviewing the interview questions vis-à-vis the type of information you want to gather to ensure that they are correspondent.
b) Determining the research population and sample: this entails deciding on the people to interview.
It includes their number (sample size).
You are required to consider the nature of the research population to establish the most appropriate form interview to conduct.
Per se, demographics such as age and socioeconomic status may affect the population’s and sample’s ability to use specific technology in the interview process.
c) Training the interviewers: note that it is not always possible to conduct interviews by yourself.
As such, in cases where the sample size is considerably huge, it is essential to look for assistance.
You should aim to acquire such assistance from people with knowledge in the entailed field.
Markedly, it is important to train the assisting interviewers on the interview process and the use of interview guide to ensure consistency in data collection.
d) Conducting a pilot test: this entails pretesting the interview tools before the actual interview.
This step is quite essential in examining the accuracy and appropriateness of the interviews.
You should conduct a mock interview to help identify potential problems, and therefore help to smoothen the interview process.
e) Deciding on the interview location: this is the last step before the actual use of interviews in data collection.
It is important in enhancing the comfort of the interviewee and ensuring a smooth interview process.
You should consult with the interviewees before deciding on the interview location.