Interview in Research


Interview in Research

The interview is verbal questioning. As a research tool or as a method of data collection, the interview is different from general interviewing with regard to its preparation, construction and execution. This difference is that: research interview is prepared and executed in a systematic way it is controlled by the researcher to avoid bias and distortion, and it is related to a specific research question and a specific purpose.

Bingham and Moore (1924) have described the interview as "a conversation with a purpose". This definition is too broad to be accepted in the research field because the purpose (of interview) could be therapeutic, psychiatric, selection for a job, selection for admission to professional institution publicity of a film actor, and so on. In the research field, Lindzey Gardner (1968) has defined an interview as "a two-person conversation, initiated by the interviewer for the specific purpose of obtaining research-relevant information and focused by him on the content specified by the research objectives of description and explanation". In the research interview, thus, the interviewer asks specific questions about research objectives/ criteria and the respondent restricts his answers to specific questions posed by the interviewer.

Types of Interview

Once the researcher has determined that surveying is the appropriate data collection approach, various means may be used to secure information from individuals. A researcher can conduct a survey by personal interview, telephone, mail, computer, or a combination of these.

1. Personal interviewing

A personal interview (i.e ., face-to-face communication) is a two-way conversation initiated by an interviewer to obtain information from a participant. The differences in the roles of interviewer and participant are pronounced. They are typically strangers and the interviewer generally controls the topics and patterns of discussion. The consequences of the event are usually insignificant for the participant. The participant is asked to provide information and has little hope of receiving any immediate or direct benefit from this cooperation.

2. Focus group interview

The use of focus groups allows for a sample of respondents to be interviewed and then re-interviewed so that attitudes and behaviors can be studied over a period of time (a longitudinal survey). An advantage of focus groups is that they allow for a variety of views to emerge, while group dynamics can often allow for the stimulation of new perspectives. Indeed, sometimes these new perspectives may provide the basis for a survey.

Focus groups are increasingly used in the political arena and are also a common tool in market research. Within a business or organization, they can be useful in engaging the commitment of people, especially in circumstances where there is cynicism or hostility towards the research theme.

3. Telephone interview

The telephone can help arrange personal interviews and screen large populations for unusual types of participants. Studies have also shown that making prior notification calls can improve the response rates of mail surveys. However, the telephone interview makes its greatest contribution in survey work as a unique mode of communication to collect information from participants.

Of the advantages that telephone interviewing offers, probably none ranks higher than its moderate cost one study reports that sampling and data collection costs for telephone surveys can run from 45 to 64 percent lower than comparable personal interviews. Much of the savings come from cuts in travel costs and administrative savings from training and supervision. When calls are made from a single location, the researcher may use fewer yet more skilled interviewers. Telephones are especially economical when callbacks to maintain probability sampling are involved and participants are widely scattered. Long-distance service options make it possible to interview nationally at a reasonable cost.

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