Beware! You Must Possess These Qualities to Interview Participants for Research

When it comes to organising an interview, you emphasise on the quality of questions, but do you think this is enough for a successful and result-oriented interview? Well, you may have known what the answer is going to be. You may think that interview is an art that is inherent. However, you can learn some techniques to improve your interview skills. Here are the qualities that will be a stepping stone to a better interview.  

Resist yourself to share your experience

More often than not, you may connect to the experience of one of your participants at the time of an interview. If you broke in to share your experience, the conversation will continue on the same topic and eat into your timeframe for the interview. Try to control your irresistible feeling of sharing your experience that may spur your respondents to reconstruct a story in a more inner voice than before. However, this behaviour can also take a toll on your interview because other participants will be peeved and impatient for you to stop talking. This attitude can also digress your respondents from the main subject. 

Do not reinforce your participants’ responses

Many interviewers have been noted for fortifying responses from their participants. They do not even realise when they, by force of habit, say “OK”, “Yes” or “Huh”. Some experts believe that this is a nice way as it assures participants that you are listening to them. You are attentive to what they say and they keep talking to you. However, these affirmative responses can distort the way participants respond. The most significant approach to become less intrusive is to refer later in an interview to something participants have said earlier.  

Trust your instincts

Sometimes it becomes difficult to assimilate the responses of interviewees as their feelings and expressions contradict their verbal language. For instance, a respondent discussing his teaching experience positively but with little energy. You might be confused to draw a conclusion that whether the respondent was elated or dejected with his teaching experience. In these situations, you should follow your hunches. Tell your participant clearly you are unable to reach a conclusion due to contradictory statements. This open approach will help an interviewee to respond more freely that will give you insights into their real experience with no ambiguity. 

Be wary while using an interview guide

Sometimes you will have preset questions that you would like to be answered to gather and analyse data. However, in-depth interview formats are designed to explore the real experience of participants instead of testing hypothesis. You may have a basic interview guide that you would like to follow, but chances are what seems interesting to you will not be interesting for your participants. For example, during an interview, you noticed that all participants discussed a particular issue, and you were interested in knowing how they reacted to that issue. Therefore, to avoid this phenomenon, your interview guide must cover wide areas. For instance, if an interview is related to teaching experience, your questions will cover areas such as student-teacher relationship, students’ relationship with their mentors, teachers’ experience with students’ parents, and their experience with testing, tracking and grading. So preset questions with caution. 

Tolerate silence

Give some time to your participants to reconstruct a story. You might be obsessed with a  thought that you have given enough time to your participants to think an answer, but you will find that you hardly waited for a minute at the time of listening transcript. Thoughtfulness takes time. If you patiently tolerate silence, you might hear things from respondents that you could have never heard if you had posed another question to break the silence. 

There is not fixed way for deciding on questions for in-depth interview. Truly effective questions flow from what you perceive from the responses of your participants.