Chapter 12 Qualitative Interviewing
Overview: This chapter discusses some of the guidelines for qualitative interviewing and focuses
on three interview-based methods of research:
1) In-depth interview studies (signify research designs where qualitative interviewing is the
primary means of data gathering),
2) Focus group interviews (when a number of people are brought together in a lab type
setting to be interviewed together, as a group), and
3) Oral history (in depth interviews that focus on recollections of the past).
What is the difference between qualitative interview and survey interviewing?
Unlike survey interviews where standardized questions are asked of each respondent, qualitative
interviews allow the researcher to pursue issues and topics in greater depth. Comparatively,
qualitative interviews are less structured and gives the subject of the interview more freedom to
direct the flow of conversation. Such interviews provide the researcher the opportunity to explore
topics, particularly unanticipated issues that may arise in the course of an interview.
Qualitative Depth Interviewing: definitions and Guidelines
What is qualitative interview?
In contrast to a survey interview, a qualitative interview allows the researcher to pursue issues in
depth and gives the respondent more freedom to direct the flow of conversation. The researcher
typically has a general plan of inquiry but not a standardized set of questions that must be rigidly
followed. Steinar Kvale describes the interviewers as a “miner” (the subject possess specific
information and that the interviewer’s job is to dig it out) or “traveller” (“interviewer wanders
along with the local inhabitant, asks questions that lead the subject to tell their own stories”).
How to conduct a good qualitative interview?
To conduct a qualitative interview, you need to be able to listen, think, ad talk almost at the same
time. Also, you should go into the interview with some general/specific questions you want
answered and some topics you want addressed. At times, you’ll have to learn the skills of subtly
directing the flow of conversation. Do not try to halt your respondents line of discussion, instead,
learn to take what he or she has said and branch that comment back in the direction appropriate
to your purposes. Make sure to control a “guided conversation”. Do not try to sound abrupt.
Remind yourself you are not having normal conversations.
What are the 7 stages Steinar Kavle details in a complete interviewing process?
1) Thematizing: clarifying the purpose of interviews and the concepts to be explored.
2) Designing: laying out the process through which you’ll accomplish your purpose,
including a consideration of the ethical dimensions.
3) Interviewing: doing the actual interviews.
4) Transcribing: creating a written text of the interviews.
5) Analyzing: determining the meaning of gathered materials in relation to the purpose of
6) Verifying: checking the reliability and validity of the materials.
7) Reporting: telling others what you’ve learnt. In-depth interview studies
Define in-depth interview study.
A research design where qualitative interviewing is the primary means of data gathering. For
example, Mirna Carranza conducted 32 qualitative in-depth interviews in her study of ways
Salvadorian mothers and daughters who settled in Canada attempt to resist racism and prejudice.
Compare in-depth interview with ethnographic or participant observation studies.
1) Ethnographic or participant observation studies typically involve a small number of
people. However, several times as many could be included in an in-depth interview study
for the same or even lesser investment of time.
2) One trade off of interview studies versus field observation is that interviews impose a
somewhat artificial setting of questions and answers. Nonetheless, the semi-structured to
unstructured form, and the length of time invested in each interview often allows issues
and perceptions to emerge that would not emerge in more structures, briefer interviews
used for surveys.
3) The in-depth interview however requires a great deal of cooperation from the subjects of
Focus Groups (exploratory)
Define focus groups.
An interviewing method where a number of subjects are brought together to discuss a specific
topic or issue. A focus group is typically led by a moderator, who helps to facilitate discussion
and ensures that no person dominates the conversation, while interfering as littler as possible in
the discussion. The type of data that results is typically qualitative in nature. Focus groups are
good tool for exploratory research. The deeper meaning behind the answers given on the surveys
and insights into potential interpretations of unforeseen relationships revealed in the data analysis
may be gained in group interviews. Focus groups are often used to gauge viewers response to
movies(testing two dif