Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base

Methodology

  • Types of Interviews in Research | Guide & Examples

Types of Interviews in Research | Guide & Examples

Published on March 10, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on June 22, 2023.

An interview is a qualitative research method that relies on asking questions in order to collect data . Interviews involve two or more people, one of whom is the interviewer asking the questions.

There are several types of interviews, often differentiated by their level of structure.

  • Structured interviews have predetermined questions asked in a predetermined order.
  • Unstructured interviews are more free-flowing.
  • Semi-structured interviews fall in between.

Interviews are commonly used in market research, social science, and ethnographic research .

Table of contents

What is a structured interview, what is a semi-structured interview, what is an unstructured interview, what is a focus group, examples of interview questions, advantages and disadvantages of interviews, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about types of interviews.

Structured interviews have predetermined questions in a set order. They are often closed-ended, featuring dichotomous (yes/no) or multiple-choice questions. While open-ended structured interviews exist, they are much less common. The types of questions asked make structured interviews a predominantly quantitative tool.

Asking set questions in a set order can help you see patterns among responses, and it allows you to easily compare responses between participants while keeping other factors constant. This can mitigate   research biases and lead to higher reliability and validity. However, structured interviews can be overly formal, as well as limited in scope and flexibility.

  • You feel very comfortable with your topic. This will help you formulate your questions most effectively.
  • You have limited time or resources. Structured interviews are a bit more straightforward to analyze because of their closed-ended nature, and can be a doable undertaking for an individual.
  • Your research question depends on holding environmental conditions between participants constant.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Semi-structured interviews are a blend of structured and unstructured interviews. While the interviewer has a general plan for what they want to ask, the questions do not have to follow a particular phrasing or order.

Semi-structured interviews are often open-ended, allowing for flexibility, but follow a predetermined thematic framework, giving a sense of order. For this reason, they are often considered “the best of both worlds.”

However, if the questions differ substantially between participants, it can be challenging to look for patterns, lessening the generalizability and validity of your results.

  • You have prior interview experience. It’s easier than you think to accidentally ask a leading question when coming up with questions on the fly. Overall, spontaneous questions are much more difficult than they may seem.
  • Your research question is exploratory in nature. The answers you receive can help guide your future research.

An unstructured interview is the most flexible type of interview. The questions and the order in which they are asked are not set. Instead, the interview can proceed more spontaneously, based on the participant’s previous answers.

Unstructured interviews are by definition open-ended. This flexibility can help you gather detailed information on your topic, while still allowing you to observe patterns between participants.

However, so much flexibility means that they can be very challenging to conduct properly. You must be very careful not to ask leading questions, as biased responses can lead to lower reliability or even invalidate your research.

  • You have a solid background in your research topic and have conducted interviews before.
  • Your research question is exploratory in nature, and you are seeking descriptive data that will deepen and contextualize your initial hypotheses.
  • Your research necessitates forming a deeper connection with your participants, encouraging them to feel comfortable revealing their true opinions and emotions.

A focus group brings together a group of participants to answer questions on a topic of interest in a moderated setting. Focus groups are qualitative in nature and often study the group’s dynamic and body language in addition to their answers. Responses can guide future research on consumer products and services, human behavior, or controversial topics.

Focus groups can provide more nuanced and unfiltered feedback than individual interviews and are easier to organize than experiments or large surveys . However, their small size leads to low external validity and the temptation as a researcher to “cherry-pick” responses that fit your hypotheses.

  • Your research focuses on the dynamics of group discussion or real-time responses to your topic.
  • Your questions are complex and rooted in feelings, opinions, and perceptions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no.”
  • Your topic is exploratory in nature, and you are seeking information that will help you uncover new questions or future research ideas.

Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting

Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

  • Academic style
  • Vague sentences
  • Style consistency

See an example

research interview guide pdf

Depending on the type of interview you are conducting, your questions will differ in style, phrasing, and intention. Structured interview questions are set and precise, while the other types of interviews allow for more open-endedness and flexibility.

Here are some examples.

  • Semi-structured
  • Unstructured
  • Focus group
  • Do you like dogs? Yes/No
  • Do you associate dogs with feeling: happy; somewhat happy; neutral; somewhat unhappy; unhappy
  • If yes, name one attribute of dogs that you like.
  • If no, name one attribute of dogs that you don’t like.
  • What feelings do dogs bring out in you?
  • When you think more deeply about this, what experiences would you say your feelings are rooted in?

Interviews are a great research tool. They allow you to gather rich information and draw more detailed conclusions than other research methods, taking into consideration nonverbal cues, off-the-cuff reactions, and emotional responses.

However, they can also be time-consuming and deceptively challenging to conduct properly. Smaller sample sizes can cause their validity and reliability to suffer, and there is an inherent risk of interviewer effect arising from accidentally leading questions.

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each type of interview that can help you decide if you’d like to utilize this research method.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Student’s  t -distribution
  • Normal distribution
  • Null and Alternative Hypotheses
  • Chi square tests
  • Confidence interval
  • Quartiles & Quantiles
  • Cluster sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Data cleansing
  • Reproducibility vs Replicability
  • Peer review
  • Prospective cohort study

Research bias

  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Placebo effect
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Hindsight bias
  • Affect heuristic
  • Social desirability bias

The four most common types of interviews are:

  • Structured interviews : The questions are predetermined in both topic and order. 
  • Semi-structured interviews : A few questions are predetermined, but other questions aren’t planned.
  • Unstructured interviews : None of the questions are predetermined.
  • Focus group interviews : The questions are presented to a group instead of one individual.

The interviewer effect is a type of bias that emerges when a characteristic of an interviewer (race, age, gender identity, etc.) influences the responses given by the interviewee.

There is a risk of an interviewer effect in all types of interviews , but it can be mitigated by writing really high-quality interview questions.

Social desirability bias is the tendency for interview participants to give responses that will be viewed favorably by the interviewer or other participants. It occurs in all types of interviews and surveys , but is most common in semi-structured interviews , unstructured interviews , and focus groups .

Social desirability bias can be mitigated by ensuring participants feel at ease and comfortable sharing their views. Make sure to pay attention to your own body language and any physical or verbal cues, such as nodding or widening your eyes.

This type of bias can also occur in observations if the participants know they’re being observed. They might alter their behavior accordingly.

A focus group is a research method that brings together a small group of people to answer questions in a moderated setting. The group is chosen due to predefined demographic traits, and the questions are designed to shed light on a topic of interest. It is one of 4 types of interviews .

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

George, T. (2023, June 22). Types of Interviews in Research | Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 12, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/interviews-research/

Is this article helpful?

Tegan George

Tegan George

Other students also liked, unstructured interview | definition, guide & examples, structured interview | definition, guide & examples, semi-structured interview | definition, guide & examples, what is your plagiarism score.

IMAGES

  1. FREE 10+ Research Interview Schedule Templates in PDF

    research interview guide pdf

  2. The Marketing Research Interview Guide

    research interview guide pdf

  3. FREE 7+ Sample Interview Question Templates in PDF

    research interview guide pdf

  4. FREE 10+ Research Interview Schedule Templates in PDF

    research interview guide pdf

  5. 6 Qualitative Research and Interviews

    research interview guide pdf

  6. FREE 10+ Research Interview Schedule Samples in PDF

    research interview guide pdf

VIDEO

  1. Interview Question in Job: What to Research About Company? #internships #jobs

  2. Ramsey

  3. Interview Method

  4. How To Prepare for User Research

  5. Interview guide in research methodology

  6. Türkiye ترکیہ Map Explained by Sir Tanveer Ranjha

COMMENTS

  1. PDF Interviewing in Qualitative Research

    Introduction Interviewing in qualitative research is much like good conversation. It is the process of extracting people's experiences, describing how they felt about them and how they affected their lives. It is the most widely used method in qualitative research.

  2. PDF Appendix 1: Semi-structured interview guide

    interviews in the write-up of the study but will ensure that no one can be identified from these quotes. At the end of the study, the research data, including consent forms, anonymised interview transcripts, field notes and your contact details, will be kept in locked filling cabinets and/or password-protected university

  3. (PDF) How to Conduct an Effective Interview; A Guide to Interview

    How to Conduct an Effective Interview; A Guide to Interview Design in Research Study Authors: Hamed Taherdoost University Canada West Abstract Interviews are one of the most promising...

  4. PDF Guide to Interview Guides and Interviewing

    3. People's espoused theories differ from their theories-in-practice. Get them to tell a story. Ask "how" questions not "do". Use "tell me about" and "tell me more about that". Use open-ended questions. Approach your topic sideways. Don't take the first answer as a final answer. Ask for elaboration.

  5. PDF Strategies for Qualitative Interviews

    1. Knowledgeable: is thoroughly familiar with the focus of the interview; pilot interviews of the kind used in survey interviewing can be useful here. 2. Structuring: gives purpose for interview; rounds it off; asks whether interviewee has questions. 3. Clear: asks simple, easy, short questions; no jargon. 4.

  6. PDF TIPSHEET QUALITATIVE INTERVIEWING

    TIPSHEET - QUALITATIVE INTERVIEWING Qualitative interviewing provides a method for collecting rich and detailed information about how individuals experience, understand and explain events in their lives. This tipsheet offers an introduction to the topic and some advice on carrying out effective interviews. Why interviews?

  7. PDF Writing Interview Protocols and Conducting Interviews: Tips for

    10. Be willing to make "on the spot" revisions to your interview protocol. Many times when you are conducting interviews a follow up question may pop into your mind. If a question occurs to you in the interview ask it. Sometimes the "ah-ha" question that makes a great project comes to you in the moment.

  8. PDF WORKBOOK E: CONDUCTING IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS

    1. Developing a sampling strategy (Whose attitudes and beliefs matter to your research, and how will you find these people?) 2. Writing an in-depth interview guide (An in-depth interview guide contains the questions that will be asked during the interview.) 3. Conducting the interviews (Contact potential respondents to complete an interview.) 4.

  9. PDF Conducting an Interview in Qualitative Research

    of planning" (p. 67). A semi-structured interview, as its name implies, needs to be preplanned and well prepared. The interviewer should have general questions related to their research, or topic guide (Hancock et al., 2007). General questions do not delve into the understanding of the interviewee, but instead break 1 This is a refereed ...

  10. PDF UNDERSTANDING RESEARCH interviewS

    ideas; the research questions; and the resulting questions in the interview schedule. Interviews are usually differentiated as structured, semi-structured or unstructured. Structured interviews will have a set script of questions that all interviewees will be asked in the same order, therefore ensuring consistency across interviews. In semi-

  11. PDF Structured Methods: Interviews, Questionnaires and Observation

    Constructing an interview schedule or questionnaire 192 Keep it short 192 Introduction or welcome message 192 Elements of an effective cover letter 193 ... 11-Seale-4312-CH-11-Part 2.indd 181 22/11/2011 4:03:25 PM. 182 DOING RESEARCH Learning how to design and use structured interviews, questionnaires and observation instruments is an important ...

  12. Designing the interview guide (Chapter 5)

    The interview guide serves many purposes. Most important, it is a memory aid to ensure that the interviewer covers every topic and obtains the necessary detail about the topic. For this reason, the interview guide should contain all the interview items in the order that you have decided.

  13. PDF Interview as a Method for Qualitative Research

    (Kvale,1996) A qualitative research interview seeks to cover both a factual and a meaning level, though it is usually more difficult to interview on a participant's experiences. The interviewer can information around the topic. Interviews may certain respondents to questionnaires,e.g., to responses. (McNamara,1999)

  14. (PDF) The Research Interview

    PDF | The Research Interview brings into focus the decisions that the interviewer faces at all stages of the interview process. Taking a data-led... | Find, read and cite all the research...

  15. (PDF) Using Interviews in a Research Project

    Using Interviews in a Research Project Authors: Nigel Mathers The University of Sheffield Nick J Fox University of Huddersfield Amanda Hunn AJH Associates Abstract The interview is an important...

  16. The Qualitative Report

    Research Interviewing: Context and Narrative. Research interviewing was then described more broadly in four volumes by Fielding in . Interviewing (2003). Another overview of methods can be found in the . Handbook of Interview Research (edited by Gubrium, Holstein, Marvasti, & McKinney, 2012). Specifically, as it applies to

  17. Types of Interviews in Research

    There are several types of interviews, often differentiated by their level of structure. Structured interviews have predetermined questions asked in a predetermined order. Unstructured interviews are more free-flowing. Semi-structured interviews fall in between. Interviews are commonly used in market research, social science, and ethnographic ...

  18. Conducting a Research Interview

    Request full-text PDF. To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author. ... as guidelines in designing the interview guide conducted by the researcher ...

  19. PDF Research Square

    Created Date: 20200204102529Z

  20. PDF INTERVIEWING GUIDE

    1 Table of Contents The Interview Process……………………………………………………….…….2 Purpose of Interviews Phases of Interviews: Before, During & After Types of Interviews...…………………………………………………….….…....5 Researching Your Potential Employer………………………………...…….…....7 Questions Asked By Employers……………………………………………...…...9

  21. (PDF) Interviewing in qualitative research

    Interviewing in qualitative research DOI: Authors: Ryan Frances Michael Coughlan Trinity College Dublin Cronin Patricia Abstract Background The one-to-one interview is a commonly used data...

  22. Interview Guide

    Interviews. C. Bird, in Perspectives on Data Science for Software Engineering, 2016 The Interview Guide. Creating an interview guide helps interview research in a number of ways. An interview guide is simply a list of the high level topics that you plan on covering in the interview with the high level questions that you want to answer under each topic.

  23. (Pdf) Research Instruments: a Questionnaire and An Interview Guide Used

    PDF | This paper is an excerpt from a Master Degree Thesis (M.Ed.) conducted in 2016. ... and interview guide used in the aforementioned study were subjected to Validity and reliability ...