How to Prepare Research Interview Questions
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Preparation is a key ingredient in conducting research and preparing research interview questions. Interview questions are important as the goal of any research interview is to gain credible, vital knowledge, no matter the subject.
This is a short guide on how to prepare research interview questions carefully, understand the process and consider some key tips.
Types of Interviews
There are a number of forms in which the interview process can take place. These include:
Academic Research Interviews
Standard academic research is generally based on one-on-one questioning in a controlled environment. Useful for collating knowledge-based answers.
Focus Group Interviews
With a focus group, opinions are asked to more than one person. Questioning allows for more discussion within the group. Useful for getting insights into an idea, brand, service to understand all possibilities/strengths/weakenesses. Experienced focus group transcription may be required for recordings in some cases.
Opinion Poll Interviews
This type of questioning is often straightforward. With opinion polls, questions are often short and require short answers. Questions are often in the form of a, b, c, responses in which the interviewee picks their answer from the selection. Useful for timing how people feel or will respond to an event/product/service launch.
Customer feedback questions usually remain open-ended. They may be multiple choice, but can be combined and presented in an essay style to give more girth to the interview. Useful to gain feddback on how well a service or product has performed.
Open Ended Interviews
Open ended questioning refers to more than just yes or no responses. The interviewee provides reasons why they feel the way they do. Useful to gather peoples views or opinions on wht matters.
Not all interviews require lengthy responses. A closed interview questioning is therefore based on yes, no, or multiple choice responses. Useful to get a decision on the potential viability of a service/product.
With conversational interviews, questions are not rehearsed, but spontaneous. For professional interviewing, this is not a recommended approach as it leaves room for error and getting the interview off track. Useful for gaining unexpected insights in presented areas of interest.
Preparing Your Research Interview Questions
Here are a couple of tips that should help you formulate questions for your interview – whatever the type.
Words Are Important When It Comes To The Question
When preparing your questions for an interview, think about individual words you might like to use and their connotations. Words and phrases mean different things to different people and can inhibit an interview from being productive or honest. It is important to ask yourself how the question can be perceived and focus on a neutral sentiment.
Are there alternative words and phrases the interviewee might confuse?
Always Keep Your Audience in Mind
One area that professional interviewers often fail on is to do with understanding who they are interviewing. The educational level of your interviewee will determine a lot about how the interview will proceed. Well educated individuals have little trouble expressing themselves in a way that gives credible information. However, if the education level of the interviewee is perhaps more basic, then you must change tactics.
For example, children and slightly less educated people may respond better to closed questioning. It gives them the freedom to give short answers.
Know Your Purpose
Be clear with your intentions when preparing questions. Think of the type of interview you are about to conduct. What are you trying to achieve?
Ultimately, understand the purpose of the interview. Is it for informational purposes only? Are you wanting a specific answer? Is it merely research? All these thoughts will allow you to craft research questions based on the purpose to keep the interview on track better.
The worst behaviour an interviewer can display is having a biased opinion. Opinions are great, but they should only be raised by the interviewee. Always keep your personal feelings out of the questioning. Instead focus on the end result of the interview. Questions may be controversial, but keep in mind, each opinion matters.
What Outcome Do You Want?
We cannot determine the future. However, speculating on what we believe will happen is perfectly fine. Thinking the interview through until the end will allow you maintain perspective throughout the process. An interview will also, often prove your wrong, so do not be dismayed if you find your opinion at the outcome was incorrect.
Tips for Crafting Interview Questions
Here are 5 tips we think also help with any researcher prepare for an interview.
Keep Things Simple
Keep in mind that the less confusing you can make a question, the more relevant the information wil be that you capture.
Have a mix of both open ended and closed questions. The open ended questions allow the respondent to give opinions and help set a comfortable tone of being “heard”. Closed questioning will keep everyone on focus.
You will forget things, so be sure to write every question down. This may seem elementary, but you do not want to close an interview and then remember a question. On the other hand you can record your interviews and simply have them transcribed by professional qualitative research transcription service.
Watch Your Facial Expressions
Finally, when crafting your interview questions, take note of any changes in your facial expressions. Ask the planned questions in a mirror to yourself. Any changes in your facial expression should be noted and, if its likely to be perceived as negative in any way, avoided in the interview. Body language by the interviewer can also sway a respondent, so be careful with how you sit and place your body.
Make a Trial Run
If it important, especially for researchers new to crafting questions for research interview, then practice. Take some time to practice on colleagues and friends. This will give you insight as to how good your questions really are and note any adjustments they make recommend.
Useful Resources For Interview Questions
Also check our guidelines for conducting research interviews and for those who have prepared their research interview questions nd want to transcribe the recordings themselves, our guide on how to transcribe and interview.
Further guides are General Guidelines For Conducting Research Interviews and Interview As A method For Qualitative Research.