An interview in qualitative research is a conversation where questions are asked to elicit information. The interviewer is usually a professional or paid researcher, sometimes trained, who poses questions to the interviewee, in an alternating series of usually brief questions and answers. They can be contrasted with focus groups in which an interviewer questions a group of people and observes the resulting conversation between interviewees, or surveys which are more anonymous and limit respondents to a range of predetermined answer choices. In phenomenological or ethnographic research, interviews are used to uncover the meanings of central themes in the life world of the subjects from their own point of view.
- Conversation to collect first-hand accounts of experience, opinions, attitudes, and perceptions
- They are best conducted in person to include nuances of personal expression and body language, but may also be conducted by phone or social media.
- They may follow a script of questions or simply have a guiding topic, which allows for flexible detours in conversational form.
- Stakeholder interviews focus on information from specific roles or people who may have a vested interest in the particular inquiry.
- Key informant interviews concentrate on people who have specialized or expert knowledge to contribute.
- Interviews of couples or groups should be moderated so conversations are not dominated by one person.
- Interviews can be more productive when based around artifacts, the inspiration behind methods, personal inventories, and picture cards.