Best Guidelines for Conducting Research Interviews
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Gathering information for various companies, organizations, or products is what research is all about. It allows anyone doing the research to make an educated decision on new product or service. Basically, proper research interviews can influence the outcome of a decision or even a business’s future, so it is very important. Acquiring that information is often easier said than done when it comes to successful interviews.
Research Interview Process Guide
Here are the best tips we could find to help you with conducting research interviews in the future.
Preparation is Key
You won’t get anywhere with your respondent if you are not properly prepared. Preparation starts with the interview room. It should be relatively small with minimal distractions. Even the smallest distraction can cause a respondent to lose focus through the course of the interview and you want them solely focused on the questions you ask. Steer clear of loud furnishings within the space.
Preparation before the interview is important. Explain the actual format of the interview, how long it should take, and address terms of confidentiality. Always ask the respondent if they have any questions prior to the start of an interview. Lingering questions can divert focus from the task at hand.
Note the Sequence of Questions
The order in which you ask respondents questions is important to the research interview process. Respondents might be excited or even wary about giving their honest opinions. So fact based questions should first be introduced. This gives the opportunity to allow the respondent to engage in the interview before they are required to give their true opinion. It can also be a good ice breaker. Use factual questioning throughout the interview to maintain focus.
Your last question should focus on the interviewees impression of the interview itself. This type of question will also give you (as the interviewer) insight into anything they feel they may have said wrong and helps improve any future similar interviews.
Wording of Questions
Words mean a lot. How a question is worded will impact the information you get. Avoid complicated questions and rather focus on short questions, which are worded clearly. These type of questions often lead to more credible information than longer or drawn out questions.
Should the respondent begin giving short, uninformative answers, it is acceptable to ask them to elaborate on their response. However, avoid asking “Why”. Asking, “Why,” can sometimes trigger a defensive approach by some which can impact the overall atmosphere of the interview in a negative way. Rather state something like: “that is an interesting point, could you elaborate on your thought a bit more?”
Note taking in an interview does not always seem necessary, especially if the interview is being recorded. However, taking notes allows the respondent to see that you are listening to them and creates the impression that what they say is important.
Notes also give you information to go back to when you review the interview later. Take note of changes in the respondents mood, mannerisms, and even when he or she transitions from one point of view to another. Remember, everything is important when conducting research interviews.
Transition from One Topic to Another
Part of keeping your research interview running smoothly is to maintain control over the interview the entire time. Respondents often move to another topic without notice. Transition questioning is a way to avoid this issue.
It starts when you clearly state that the topic will change. For example, “We have been talking on the subject of cats, but now I would like to get your opinion on dogs.” This questioning strategy is key to maintain proper order, especially with larger focus groups.
Maintain Your Interviewer Status
One problem with interviewing respondents is the nature of humans. It is easy to get an interview off track by allowing the interview to become more of a conversation rather than an interview. It is up to the interviewer to keep order. Take note of your appearance during the interview process. It is important to remain the authoritative figure in the room.
You need to show control, but not look domineering as this can intimidate your respondent. Look friendly and nod occasionally to ensure your respondent knows you are actively listening and maintain eye contact throughout the process. A comfortable respondent is more likely to give real, honest answers.
Following the Interview
Once the interview is over and the respondent has left the room, the interviewer should go back and review the interview. This might seem like an unnecessary step, but while the interview is fresh in your mind, you will recall certain aspects of the interview you may have forgotten to add to your notes. Another alternative is to have your interview transcribed professionally saving you time with notes or recalling key useful comments.
We can all use improvement and when working with the public, how you speak, look, and respond to them is important. There are also many dos and don’ts to consider in the interview process, and suggestion on how to transcribe an interview, but if you use these guidelines for conducting research interviews you will ensure that you will get the right information.