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November 27, 2014 / C H Thompson

Unstructured interviews (open interviews)

  by Sam Cook


  1. Often a good deal of rapport develops between interviewer and interviewee allowing a detailed and honest information to be obtained. This is very useful where the subject being researched might be particularly sensitive
  2. It allows the respondent (interviewee) to speak for themselves so the researcher can gain a better understanding (verstehen) of the topic being discussed
  3. The interviewer can easily develop points raised by the respondent to gain an even deeper meaning by exploring the meanings and motivations behind a particular action or event


  1. The success of the interview often depends on the quality and skills of the interviewer
  2. The interview itself can be very time consuming and playing back what’s been recorded is also very time consuming which means fewer interviews take place meaning samples tend to be small
  3. As the interviews are open, the lack of non-standardised questions make generalisations and the production of statistics difficult
  4. There’s a good chance of interviewer bias: a) The interviewer could give non-verbal cues such as smiling which could influence an interviewee’s response b) The interviewer may only follow up leads in the interview they deem important, which could contradict what the respondent feels as important
  5. The fact you ask questions about something sometimes affects the dynamic of the interview to the extent the respondent changes their behaviour


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