There are three different formats of interviews: structured, semi-structured and unstructured. Structured interviews consist of a series of pre-determined questions that all interviewees answer in the same order.
Data analysis usually tends to be more straightforward because researcher can compare and contrast different answers given to the same questions. Unstructured interviews are usually the least reliable from research viewpoint, because no questions are prepared prior to the interview and data collection is conducted in an informal manner.
Unstructured interviews can be associated with a high level of bias and comparison of answers given by different respondents tends to be difficult due to the differences in formulation of questions.
Semi-structured interviews contain the components of both, structured and unstructured interviews.
In semi-structured interviews, interviewer prepares a set of same questions to be answered by all interviewees.
Advantages of interviews include possibilities of collecting detailed information about research questions.
Disadvantages, on the other hand, include longer time requirements and difficulties associated with arranging an appropriate time with perspective sample group members to conduct interviews. When conducting interviews you should have an open mind and refrain from displaying disagreements in any forms when viewpoints expressed by interviewees contradict your own ideas.
Moreover, timing and environment for interviews need to be scheduled effectively. Specifically, interviews need to be conducted in a relaxed environment, free of any forms of pressure for interviewees whatsoever.
There is a risk of interviewee bias during the primary data collection process and this would seriously compromise the validity of the project findings. Some interviewer bias can be avoided by ensuring that the interviewer does not overreact to responses of the interviewee.
Other steps that can be taken to help avoid or reduce interviewer bias include having the interviewer dress inconspicuously and appropriately for the environment and holding the interview in a private setting.
Qualitative analysis of interview data: A step-by-step guide
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