Research Methods (1) Interviews

9. Conducting the Interview (b) At the interview

Here is a list of steps to follow at the interview:

  1. Introduce yourself and the research. Explain why you want to interview them and why their views and experiences are valued.
  2. Indicate how long the interview will take and any potential follow up.
  3. Go over the various consent forms with your interviewee. This can be orally or on paper. NB Issues of confidentiality, anonymity, security of data, right to withdraw at any point. Offer to provide a summary of the research results. Every participant has a right to see their transcript and recording.
  4. Request permission to use your digital recorder and turn it on. Position it between your interviewee and yourself. Say a few sentences and then check that it is recording. The participant can request the recorder be stopped at any stage of the interview.
  5. Remember it can take time for participants to ‘warm up’. Try to make your interviewee feel at ease.
  6. Remember to actively listen!
  7. You need to observe as well as participate.
  8. Work out how you will deal with sexist, racist or other offensive views that may be made; there are no easy solutions.
  9. Take notes in your research diary during the interview. These notes should:
  10. document the general tone of the interview;
    say how an interviewee is responding, shifts in emphasis;
    say how you as the researcher is responding or involved in the discussion;
    document emotions;
    document the key themes that emerged;
    document anything that surprises you;
    say where and when the interview took place.
  11. Remember to thank the participant at the end.
  12. Set a time to continue the interview if you do not finish.

After the interview: transcribe your interviews as soon as possible.

For more information on transcription, annotation and coding see the Research Training Module on ‘Data Analysis’.

For more information on taking notes in the field, see the Research Training Module on ‘Fieldwork’ [insert hyperlink].