Data Collection Quotes Research Enquiries and Quotes  

Taverner Blog

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Depth interviews: getting it right

There is no substitute for an experienced and talented depth (in-depth) interviewer, however, getting the behind the scenes process right can also make a world of difference to the quality of the findings. There are four critical components to a depth interview: recruitment, preparation,, interviewing, and reporting.

1) Recruitment
Finding and recruiting respondents is a vital process and is more analogous to sales than to research: suitable clients must be found, they should be aware of what is involved, and they should be positively disposed to the interview. A depth interview can be ruined from the start by recruiting poor quality respondents, not informing the respondents sufficiently, or putting respondents offside.

Poor quality recruiting can result from:

a. Specifications not being written tightly.
b. Recruiters working to a ‘number’ quota, rather than a ‘quality’ quota (i.e. to a tight specification).
c. The researcher not fully exploring or understanding the client’s rationale behind the research, this is typically more crucial in a depth interview scenario as a depth interview is often the first step that will guide the development of other research materials (quant questionnaires, focus group topic guides etc).
d. Offering an incentive that is higher than expected for the time taken or the position (if business related) of the respondent, this can lead to ‘money hungry’ respondents in it only for the money.
e. Lack of feedback between client, research and recruiter.

2) Interviewer preparation
The interviewer needs to be fully briefed on the project, the respondent or the pool of respondents, and the topic of the interview. Ideally the interviewer is someone who is already involved in the project, and has previous experience with the subject. Written briefing notes should be created as a way of making sure that adequate preparation has been done. Interviewer briefing notes should always be shown to the client prior to the interview.

3) Conducting the interview
Whether on the phone or face to face, keeping an interview on track is an acquired skill. The interviewee needs to feel relaxed enough to be able to expand on the topic. This can only come from interacting with a skilled, experienced interviewer who can make them feel like a friend. The interviewer must balance the competing demands of meeting the pre-set objectives as defined in the briefing notes, and recognising when unforeseen topics and information begin to surface.

4) Decoding and reporting
The sooner notes are made after the interview the better. If left overnight, memory will distort and blur. The interviewer will be more certain the next day of the 'general findings' but less certain of details, or of anything that contradicts the general findings. For reporting, the mass of information in the notes has to be boiled down to simple findings. The job of the researcher is to make decisions about what is important and what is not, and provide digestible, actionable conclusions for the client.

Above all, rapport is critical. If the interviewee feels that they like and respect the interviewer, then a wealth of information can be gleaned. If the interviewer doesn't like or doesn't respect you, then the enterprise could be wasted.

Taverner Research has a highly experienced team of depth interviewers and in-house facilities that offer clients excellent quality and value for money.

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Dave

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

© Taverner 2008