Qualitative Research Interview Questions And Sample Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Qualitative research job interviews typically combine questions to assess your knowledge and skills with questions that determine whether you are a good personal and professional fit for the company. Interviewers often ask technical questions to understand your research skills and open-ended questions to understand your perspective. If you're preparing for an interview in a role that involves qualitative research, practising how to respond to some commonly asked questions can help you build your confidence.

In this article, we list some general interview questions, outline nine typical qualitative research interview questions with sample answers and provide some questions to expect regarding your personal experience.

9 qualitative research interview questions with sample answers

Here are nine typical qualitative research interview questions with sample answers you can review to help you prepare unique answers before your meeting:

1. What do you consider the most valuable skills for a qualitative researcher?

Interviewers often ask this question to gain an understanding of your perspective as a researcher. To answer this question, you can choose two to three skills that you think are important and explain why. You can further support your answer by connecting it to something you've experienced. Some important skills for successful qualitative researchers to possess include attention to detail, communication, critical thinking, organisation, observation, and analytical skills.

Example answer: 'I think some of the most valuable skills a qualitative researcher can possess are analytical thinking, communication skills and the ability to think critically. Of these, I'd say communication skills are the most valuable. Working as a market researcher allowed me to develop my interpersonal communication skills, which enabled me to build trust with respondents and obtain reliable and thorough information. Qualitative researchers also need strong written communication skills for writing reports.'

Related: Research Skills: Definition And Examples

2. Do you have a preferred approach to qualitative research?

An interviewer may ask this to determine if you're familiar with the different approaches to qualitative research and get a sense of your research style. You can answer this by briefly listing three to four approaches and explaining why you prefer your favourite. You can extend your answer by including an example from your previous work.

Example answer: 'My preferred approach changes according to the research question I'm attempting to answer. I like the case study and phenomenology approaches, but I enjoy ethnographic research the most. Studying and observing people in their natural environment appeases my curiosity for understanding how humans think, reason and behave. When investigating a new app, ethnographic research allowed me to achieve a deeper understanding of the design problem.'

3. If you were researching the culture of a large company, what data collection methods would you use?

Qualitative research utilises a variety of data collection methods, and an interviewer may ask a question like this to determine your understanding of methodologies. It may also help them decide if your choices align with the company's research approaches. Answer this question by listing the key methods you might use and explaining your choices. You can also give a specific example of methods you've used successfully.

Example answer: 'I would use interviews, observation and surveys. I might interview a selection of employees in the company to collect a fuller understanding of their feelings about the company culture. I would also distribute surveys with open-ended questions to all employees to gain an indication of the wider feeling about the culture. Finally, I would observe as much of the day-to-day operation of the company as possible and examine company events and gatherings.'

Related: Research Assistant Interview Questions And Example Answers

4. What do you consider when writing interview questions?

An interviewer may ask this to gain a better understanding of your abilities. You can answer this by discussing the factors you consider when devising interview questions. Include your reasons for considering these factors.

Example answer: 'I take care to write questions that permit participants to respond in their own words. I often write further questions on the same topic to get a more thorough understanding of an individual's response. This helps prompt more information from respondents who provide short answers. I also take care to avoid leading questions and questions that might prompt complex responses.'

5. Can you tell me about a disadvantage of qualitative research?

An interviewer may ask this question to see if you're familiar with some limitations of qualitative research. You can answer this by discussing one or two of the most common disadvantages of qualitative research. You can keep your answer positive by ending with an example of how you mitigate these disadvantages.

Example answer: 'Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of qualitative research is that it's prone to subjectivity. Researchers may interpret data in different ways, and this can lead to different conclusions. To mitigate this, I try to remain aware of my own biases and use multiple data collection methods from different researchers.'

Related: A Guide On How To Ace An Interview (With Tips And Examples)

6. What steps do you take to combat subjectivity in your results?

The answer to this question shows your awareness of subjectivity and your ability to reduce its effects. Your answer can also give the interviewer an idea of the reliability of your research. In your answer, outline the steps you take to ensure that your results are as objective as possible.

Example answer: 'To reduce the effects of subjectivity, I use member checking and triangulation. Getting feedback from participants on the accuracy of my interpretations improves the trustworthiness of my results. Using multiple sources of information obtained from different researchers and cross-checking their findings helps validate my conclusions.'

7. What computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software are you familiar with?

The interviewer may ask this to learn if you have experience with up-to-date qualitative data analysis software and whether you have experience using the software that the company uses. List the software you are familiar with. If the interviewer has asked which software you prefer, give clear reasons for your preference.

Example answer: 'I have extensive experience using NVivo, ATLAS.ti and MAXQDA. Although most of my experience is with MAXQDA, I prefer ATLAS.ti as it better handles collaboration. Another advantage is its use of AI technology and its support of large amounts of data.'

Related: How To Research A Company For An Interview

8. Describe a time you had to overcome a challenge in your research career.

Employers want to know that their employees can handle difficult situations. In your answer, you can share a specific situation that was challenging for you and explain how you overcame it. Finishing your answer with the results of overcoming the challenge shows your ability to identify and solve problems and achieve positive outcomes.

Example answer: 'Early in my career, I found it difficult to give an accurate account of my research methods and stay within the word limit. I overcame this by reading published qualitative research reports and focusing on the language researchers used in the methods section. This gave me a better understanding of how to describe my methods more concisely and it's something I excel at now.'

9. What ethical and legal implications would you consider when respondents are healthcare patients?

Your answer to this question tells your potential employer whether you're aware of the ethical and legal implications of conducting qualitative research with healthcare patients and how to mitigate them. Possessing an awareness of these implications can give the interviewer confidence in your ability to conduct qualitative research responsibly. In your answer, outline the implications and the steps you might take to ensure your research is ethical and legal.

Example answer: 'When conducting qualitative research with healthcare patients, I always take steps to maintain the respondents' anonymity. This is crucial because not respecting anonymity can have serious legal and ethical consequences. I believe in transparency and always inform participants of the purpose and nature of my research, tell them the measures I take to protect their identities and get their explicit consent before I gather any data from them.'

Related: 12 Important Interview Skills And How To Improve Them

General interview questions

Interviewers typically ask these questions at the beginning of the interview to learn more about you as a candidate. Here are some general interview questions that you may hear:

  • What made you interested in this position?

  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

  • What was a moment in your career you felt most proud of?

  • What are your long-term career goals?

  • What is the reason for leaving your current job?

Questions regarding your personal experience in qualitative research

Here are some questions about your personal experience in qualitative research that you may encounter:

  • Can you give an overview of your experience in qualitative research?

  • How would you describe your research skills?

  • What research projects have you completed or contributed to recently?

  • If you could redo a project you've worked on, what would you do differently?

  • How has your past research contributed to company gains?

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