How do I structure research interview questions to get the information I need?

5 Key Tips For Preparing Research

Interview Questions


Interviews are a valuable tool for gathering information for research projects. Whether you are conducting research in the social sciences, natural sciences, or humanities, interviews can provide unique insights into your subject matter. However, designing effective research interview questions is key to the success of your research. In this guide, we’ll cover 5 key tips for preparing research interview questions and ensure they are correctly set for transcription and post-analysis.

Key Tip 1: Define your research objectives

Before you begin designing interview questions, it’s important to clearly define your research objectives. What information do you hope to gather through your interviews? What are the main research questions you’re trying to answer? Understanding your research objectives will help you design questions that are focused, relevant, and useful. In addition, defining your research objectives will also help you identify the appropriate target audience for your interviews, ensuring that you are gathering insights from the right people to inform your research. By identifying the appropriate target audience for your interviews, you can also tailor your questions to their specific interests and experiences, making your research more relevant and valuable.

Key Tip 2: Determine your interview format

There are several different interview formats to choose from, depending on the nature of your research. Some common formats include structured interviews, semi-structured interviews, and unstructured interviews. Structured interviews follow a pre-determined set of questions, while semi-structured interviews allow for more flexibility and follow-up questions. Unstructured interviews are free-flowing conversations that can be useful for exploratory research. Consider which format is most appropriate for your research objectives and design questions accordingly. Read more here if you want to understand more about interview transcription that is influenced by your question design.


Key Tip 3: Use open-ended questions

Open-ended questions are questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Instead, they encourage the interviewee to provide more detailed and nuanced responses. Open-ended questions can be particularly useful for exploratory research, as they allow the interviewee to express their thoughts and opinions in their own words. When designing open-ended questions, make sure they are clear and concise, and avoid leading or biased language.

Key Tip 4: Pilot test your questions

Once you’ve designed your research interview questions, it’s important to pilot test them to ensure they are effective. This involves conducting a trial run of your interview questions with a small group of participants to gauge their effectiveness. Pay attention to how participants respond to your questions, and use their feedback to refine your questions as needed. Pilot testing your questions can also help you identify any issues with the flow or structure of your interview, giving you the opportunity to make adjustments before conducting your full research study.

Key Tip 5: Consider potential challenges

Interviews can be challenging to conduct, and there are several potential obstacles that you may encounter during the process. For example, interviewees may be hesitant to share certain information or may provide inaccurate responses. It’s important to consider these potential challenges when designing your research interview questions, and to develop strategies for overcoming them. This may involve building rapport with your interviewee, providing a safe and non-judgmental space for discussion, and being prepared to ask follow-up questions to clarify any ambiguities.



Designing effective interview questions is a critical part of any research process. By considering your research objectives, interview format, and potential challenges, you can create questions that are clear, concise, and relevant to your research goals. Additionally, piloting your questions and using open-ended language can help you gather the information you need to achieve your research objectives. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to designing effective research interview questions for your research project.