7 Types Of Interview Methods With Advantages And Tips

Updated 8 September 2023

Interview methods are helpful for researchers to gather knowledge and information on a certain topic or product. Analysts and researchers use qualitative and quantitative research methods like surveys, interviews and focus groups on cultivating a better understanding of information. The ability to select the best interview in research can help a research professional find answers to the research questions and design the best approach for conducting research. In this article, we explore different interview research methods you can use in your research and discover advantages and tips for conducting each of these interviews.

What are interview methods used in research?

Interview methods are different approaches a researcher uses to conduct research interviews. Research interviews allow researchers to gain insight into the population's attitude, opinion and behaviour. Usually, interviews are helpful for qualitative research, so the research focuses on concepts and experiences than on numerical values. If you want to include interviews in your research, you can choose from various interviewing techniques suitable for your research.

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Types of interview techniques for research

Here are seven interviewing techniques you can use in your research:

1. Structured interview

A structured interview is a qualitative research interview method where an interviewer prepares closed-ended questions that interviewees can answer with yes or no. Interviewers can conduct these interviews fast because there is no chance for the interviewer and the respondent to deviate from the topic. An interviewer cannot alter the questions during the entire process and cannot ask follow-up questions to explain or analyse the result. Often, researchers use structured interviews in survey research to maintain uniformity across various interview sessions.

Advantages of using a structured interview

Some advantages of using a structured interview include:

  • Help researcher connect with a large sample of the target population

  • Ensure accuracy in results because the interviewer cannot deviate from the topic

  • Collect organised data that helps in collectively analysing the result

  • Ensure replication across multiple samples and population

Related: What Is A Structured Interview? With Example Questions

2. Unstructured interview

An unstructured or informal or in-depth interview is the opposite of a structured interview. In such an interview, the interviewer does not ask standardised questions to each interviewee. Instead, an unstructured interview relies on open-ended questions that encourage in-depth answers over a simple yes or no. The primary aim of most researchers is building bonds with respondents, due to which respondents may answer truthfully. Interviewers can ask follow-up questions to understand the respondent's viewpoint and allow them to expand on their answers.

For instance, an unstructured interview often starts with a question like "Tell us about your viewpoint on the economy." and then the interviewer asks a question based on the response of the first question. The interviewee asks questions such that they can assess the complete skills.

Advantage of using an unstructured interview

Some advantages of using unstructured interviews are:

  • Help develop a friendly rapport with the unstructured interview

  • Clarify doubts about the questions

  • Ensure flexibility in the entire research process

  • Allow respondents to explain their answers

Related: Different Types Of Interviews and How To Prepare For Them

3. Semi-structured interview

A semi-structured interview combines pieces of both structured and unstructured interviews. An interview might have specific questions to answer, but they have the flexibility to make changes. This interview type gives researchers the creative advantage of the entire interview process. The follow-up question gives a deeper detail or explanation from the respondent. With this interview type, researchers do not conduct several interview rounds because, with every question, they can gain as much detail as they want.

Advantage of semi-structured interview

Below are a few advantages of using a mix of structured and unstructured interviews:

  • Provides flexibility while maintaining research guidelines

  • Ensures collection of reliable interview questions

  • Provides a flexible structure of the interview

  • Allows researcher to ask questions in any format

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4. Email interviews

As customers are slowly shifting to the online marketplace and using online means of communication to connect with brands, interviewing via email or web page may be a workable option. In such an interview, the respondent and interviewee need not be present in the same location simultaneously. As a result, researchers can collect a large amount of valuable data from different participants. With more and more customers moving to online marketplaces, interviewing via email or online can help researchers find meaningful answers to their questions.

Advantages of email interviews

Here are a few advantages of using email or online interviews:

  • Provide you access to a large amount of data in a short timeframe

  • Allow respondents to answer questions at their leisure

  • Allow interviewers to ask mixed types of questions to understand their audience better

  • Help you create instant reports and results

Related: How To Prepare When You Have An Interview Tomorrow

5. Personal interviews

Another common type of research interview is a personal interview that involves one-to-one interaction between the respondent and interviewer. Personal interviews or face-to-face surveys are ideal for researchers who want to talk directly to individuals and answer the research questions. An interviewer can ask follow-up questions to gain more knowledge and insight about a topic in a personal interview. Because of the face-to-face interaction, a personal interview has a higher response rate than other interview methods.

This research method explores the respondents' responses and gathers more and deeper knowledge. Based on the approach, an interviewer follows personal interview surveys of two types: door-to-door or intercept interview surveys. In an intercept approach, interviewers create a short survey and get responses from public places like food courts, theatres, malls or tourist spots. In a door-to-door survey, the interviewer directly goes to a respondent's house at a scheduled date or time.

Advantages of using a personal interview survey

Here are a few advantages of using a personal interview survey:

  • Provides good response rate

  • Provides a greater opportunity to observe the behaviour and attitude of the respondent

  • Allows a respondent to adapt to questions if they do not understand something

  • Ensures in-depth answers to questions

6. Telephonic interviews

Often, interviewers conduct telephonic interviews for conducting research and finding answers to critical business problems. As this research method is relatively inexpensive, it becomes the first choice for businesses that want critical business information without spending too much money. Also, telephonic interviews work best when you ask many open-ended questions to gather qualitative information. It helps in carrying out research effectively. Even telephonic interviews are of three types, structured, in-depth or semi-structured telephonic interviews.

Advantages of using telephonic interviews

Some advantages of using telephonic interviews are:

  • Allows you to collect a large amount of data from every individual

  • Provides a higher response rate

  • Allows finding an in-depth answer to research questions

  • Provides flexibility

  • Ensures that interviewers can improve respondent screening

  • Helps you reach business to business or B2B audience

Related: 5 BP Telephone Interview Questions With Sample Answers

7. Focus group interviews

A focus group interview is a qualitative research method that involves interviewing in a group. Usually, this method helps gain data from a selected group of individuals rather than from a large sample of the population. Often, focus group moderators encourage participants to interact with each other. Usually, these groups might look at new products, features or other topics of interest to generalise the entire population's reaction. When conducting this research interview, a researcher has adequate knowledge about the product or topic they plan to discuss.

Advantages of using a focus group interview

Some advantages of using a focus group interview are:

  • Generates qualitative data through the use of open-ended questions

  • Allows a respondent to talk

  • Allows you to hear feedback from customers

  • Provides ideas and issues that research may not have thought about

  • Helps in understanding the customers met and unmet demand

Related: How To Succeed In A Group Discussion

Tips for interviewing in research

Here are some additional tips for interviewing in research:

Choose the right interview setting

It is essential to choose the right interview setting. When conducting a research interview, find a calm place with limited distractions. This makes respondents feel comfortable and they may participate in the interview. It can help you extract valuable insights and data from the interview.

Choose the right research question

Often, researchers begin the research process by using a research question. So, wisely choose a research question that directly takes you to the research centre and attempt to answer. Choosing the right question can help you collect data that contribute to your research.

Keep in mind researcher's bias

Another tip for conducting research is being mindful of researcher bias. This can happen when researchers skew their data to match their intended outcome. So, when creating questions and analysing data, avoid researcher bias, as it can weaken your ability to conduct your research.

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