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Essay Sample on Qualitative Interviewing

4 pages
1097 words
Vanderbilt University
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Question 1: How does qualitative interviewing differ from structured interviewing?

Qualitative interviewing engages a researcher in learning about the cultural beliefs and practices of a specific community to understand their perceptions, ideas, views, problems, and solutions they consider would improve their livelihoods (Brinkmann & Kvale, 2015). It takes the form of a detective format as a researcher must learn through interacting with the target community and learn about their diverse practices. It enables a researcher to understand the similarities and differences that exist between a researcher's community and the one under study. Qualitative interviewing allows a researcher to understand the concept of socialism and may listen to life histories, or focus groups, or undertake a cultural conversation with members of the society. A qualitative interviewing differs from structured interviewing in that the latter is more of a quantitative method of research. It is mostly adapted in survey research methods, which facilitates a researcher to interpret the data, collected and presentation of questions takes place in an orderly manner. Most questions in the structured interviews are often close-ended. Corbin, Strauss, & Strauss (2014) suggest that some interviewers may include a few open-ended questions so that they can allow the interviewee give their point of view as they explain an answer to a question. It enables comparison of different types of data collected while drawing implications between them. Classification takes place depending on the similarities amongst the data collected. When conducting a qualitative interview, it is important to identify the questions a researcher will ask in advance. When asking the questions, a researcher must lay their focus on the study and avoid any external distraction that may veer off the interview from the main topic (Taylor, Bogdan, & DeVault, 2015).

Question 2: What kinds of skills does the interviewer need to develop in qualitative interviewing?

An interview needs to possess different skills as they engage in an interview with respondents. Whether the interview takes the form of a face-to-face or a phone, the researcher needs to understand that they influence the respondents by how they behave and interact with them (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015). One of the skills that an interview must possess is maintaining an eye contact with the respondent and makes them feel at ease. An interviewer must ensure they are confident and avoid showing that they are nervous. Another skill that an interviewer must have is that they must have good listening capabilities. Interrupting the interviewee as they may disrupt them from saying something important or they might shy off from continuing with the talk. Charmaz & Belgrave (2012) suggest that as the interviewee talks, it is important for the interviewer to show interest, which in turn encourages the respondent to continue with the talk.

Another skill that an interviewer must possess is knowledge of how to structure questions (Jacob & Furgerson, 2012). It means that a researcher must ask one question at any single time and avoid overlapping questions. Asking one question at a time will allow the respondent enough time to process the answer and give their response in the clearest way possible. A researcher should avoid asking a compound question that may confuse the respondent, and there is a high probability that they may ignore what the interviewer asks them. It is also important for the interviewer to have questioning skills that will probe the respondent to answer and give more information than requested (Chenail 2011; Ritchie et al., 2013). The aim of interviewing is getting quality and reliable information related to the type of research taking place. Hence, leading questions should be avoided as it may show some pre-determined and bias on the interview before collecting information.

Question 3: Why is it important to tape-record and transcribe qualitative interviews?

Transcribing and tape recording is important in qualitative interviews as it allows a research capture the exact words an interviewee uses when answering questions directed at them. It means that no word could be distorted or misinterpreted. This is because it is possible to listen to the records repeatedly until the researcher has understood what the respondent meant about the context of the discussion (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015). It is possible to critically examine the content of a tape-recorder as a researcher replays it during the analysis and discussion session. Tape-recording and transcribing allow the researcher store the collected data for a long time as long as they keep the machines used to store the data in a safe place.

Audio recordings allow a researcher to have a summarized and accurate collection of what the interviewee stated when they interacted with everything in the soundtracks have everything that transpired (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). Unlike taking notes when conducting an interview where the researcher might miss, a few words that an interviewee states, tape recording bridges the gap and allows the interviewer have all comments (Seidman, 2013). The interviewer is also in a position to interpret results better as tape recordings have soundtracks that illustrate the tonal variations, change of pitch in the voice and speed in which an interviewee talks.

Merriam & Tisdell (2015) suggest that when a researcher uses the services of a transcriber and agree to have their interviews presented with the intelligent verbatim, they will have an easy time interpreting and processing the data collected. This is because the transcription will only cover the most relevant words and ignore pauses and diversion from the topic in a conversation. It makes it easier for a researcher to get clean work.



Brinkmann, S., & Kvale, S. (2015). Interviews: Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing.

Charmaz, K., & Belgrave, L. (2012). Qualitative interviewing and grounded theory analysis. The SAGE handbook of interview research: The complexity of the craft, 2, 347-365.

Chenail, R. J. (2011). Interviewing the investigator: Strategies for addressing instrumentation and researcher bias concerns in qualitative research. The Qualitative Report, 16(1), 255.

Corbin, J., Strauss, A., & Strauss, A. L. (2014). Basics of qualitative research. Sage.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2011). The Sage handbook of qualitative research. Sage.

Jacob, S. A., & Furgerson, S. P. (2012). Writing interview protocols and conducting interviews: Tips for students new to the field of qualitative research. The Qualitative Report, 17(42), 1-10.

Merriam, S. B., & Tisdell, E. J. (2015). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. John Wiley & Sons.

Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C. M., & Ormston, R. (Eds.). (2013). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Sage.

Seidman, I. (2013). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. Teachers college press.

Taylor, S. J., Bogdan, R., & DeVault, M. (2015). Introduction to qualitative research methods: A guidebook and resource. John Wiley & Sons.


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