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Types of research interviews

by Lasse Finderup, Head of Growth at Good Tape1 February 2024
Types of research interviews
Lasse Finderup

Guide: Types of research interviews

Interviews are a key tool in many fields like academic research and corporate hiring. They help us gain insights and understand people better. There are different types of interviews, each serving a unique purpose.

Structured interviews have set questions and are great for gathering specific data. Unstructured interviews, on the other hand, let the conversation flow more freely, ideal for getting a deeper understanding of a topic.

The type of interview you choose can greatly affect the kind of information you collect. Whether you're a student, a researcher, or a professional, understanding these interview styles is crucial for gathering the right information for your study, project, or job assessment.

Let's dive into these types of interviews and understand how to choose the best one for your needs.

Types of interviews

Within research, there are five primary types of interview:

  • Structured interviews
  • Unstructured interviews
  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Qualitative interviews
  • Quantitative interviews

Each type of Interview, from the formal rigidity of structured interviews to the fluid spontaneity of unstructured interviews, is a tool to unlock different dimensions of understanding. Exploring various interview methods reveals a spectrum of approaches, each tailored to elicit different types of information and insights, essential for comprehensive research.

Let's delve deeper into these different types of research interviews, understanding their contours and how they shape the tapestry of data collection and analysis.

Structured interviews

Structured interviews stand as a pillar in quantitative research methods. Characterised by pre-defined questions in an unvarying sequence, these types of Interviews ensure uniformity and facilitate straightforward comparisons and statistical analysis.

  • Application in research and hiring: Particularly effective in large-scale surveys and formal job interviews, structured interviews allow researchers and hiring managers to evaluate data or candidates consistently, ensuring fair interview processes and reliable outcomes.
  • Strengths and limitations: While offering comparability and ease of analysis, the rigid nature of structured interviews may limit the depth of understanding, particularly in contexts where nuanced, personal insights are valuable.

Unstructured interviews

Unstructured interviews are akin to guided conversations, where the interviewer allows the discussion to flow naturally, driven by the respondent's input rather than a strict set of questions.

  • Qualitative research applications: Ideal for exploring complex, sensitive subjects, unstructured interviews are a staple in qualitative research, providing rich, in-depth insights into participant experiences and perspectives.
  • Nature of interaction: These types of interviews offer flexibility and adaptability but require skilful interviewers capable of guiding the conversation effectively while ensuring relevant data is captured.

Semi-structured interviews

Semi-structured interviews represent a middle ground, combining the guided consistency of structured interviews with the exploratory depth of unstructured ones.

  • Research and professional contexts: These types of interviews are prevalent in both academic and professional settings, such as in-depth job interviews, where they allow for a structured exploration of specific topics while also accommodating deeper, spontaneous discussions.
  • Flexibility and structure balance: This format provides a framework for the interview, ensuring key topics are covered while allowing interviewees to express additional insights and experiences.

Qualitative interviews

Qualitative interviews focus on collecting in-depth, descriptive data and transcribing interviews and qualitative research. They are essential for understanding people's perceptions, experiences, and motivations. These interviews are often unstructured or semi-structured, allowing a deep dive into complex subjects.

For instance, in a study exploring patient satisfaction in healthcare, researchers might conduct in-depth interviews with patients to understand their personal experiences and feelings about their care.

Quantitative Interviews

Quantitative interviews are structured and focus on collecting data that can be quantified and statistically analysed. They are often used in large-scale surveys and are effective in gathering data from a large number of respondents.

This realm of interviews also includes specialised types like panel interviews, stress interviews, virtual interviews, and more, each designed for specific scenarios and objectives.

Other types of interviews

Besides the five types of research interviews mentioned above, here are a few other common types of interviews we want to highlight:

  • Panel and stress interviews: Common in professional settings, panel interviews involve multiple interviewers, offering a dynamic interaction, while stress interviews test a candidate's ability to handle pressure.

  • Virtual interviews: With the rise of remote work and digital communication, virtual interviews have become increasingly prevalent, offering convenience and accessibility for interviewers and interviewees.

Choosing the right interview methods

Choosing the right interview type is a nuanced decision influenced by the research objectives, subject matter, and logistical considerations.

  • Considerations for method selection: Researchers and professionals must weigh the need for detailed, qualitative insights against the necessity for uniform, quantitative data, considering factors like subject sensitivity, time constraints, and available resources.

  • Contextual applications: For instance, a recruitment consultant might opt for structured interviews to streamline the hiring process, while a sociologist may prefer unstructured interviews to delve deeply into social phenomena..

  • Techniques and best practices: Combining open and closed-ended questions, actively listening, and avoiding biases are key to conducting successful interviews. Preparing situational and behavioural questions can elicit more profound responses and insights.

  • Enhancing interview quality: Utilising tools like Good Tape’s transcription services ensures accurate interview data capture and analysis, improving the research quality.

Discover Good Tape’s transcription software for academics and researchers

Good Tape’s transcription software is an effective asset for researchers and professionals, designed to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of different types of Interviews.

  • Software features and advantages: The software is adept at handling a range of interview formats, from one-on-one personal interviews to group discussions, offering seamless transcription of audio into text.

In the dynamic and diverse realm of research and professional evaluations, understanding and selecting suitable types of Interviews is vital to successful data collection and analysis.

Good Tape’s transcription tools offer a comprehensive solution, aligning with the diverse needs of various types of Interviews and enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of data collection across different research contexts.

This guide aims to equip users with the knowledge and tools necessary for conducting successful interviews, ensuring high-quality, reliable data for their studies or evaluations.

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