9-step checklist to conduct an in-depth interview

1. Encourage participants to provide further details when talking on crucial topics and bringing them to the interview guide when digressing.

2. Measure carefully when and in which sequence you ask certain questions. It mainly applies to the centered question. What is a centered question? Among all possible questions, a number of them are usually crucial for the research. You could actually ask these questions right away and make interviews shorter. However, it would be at the expense of reliability. In other terms, going to the point at the beginning of the discussion may inform about the sponsorship and, in consequence, affect the spontaneity and data credibility. This is actually the most common mistake.

3. For this reason it is recommendable moving from opening and more general questions like “could you please tell me about your favorite brand” up to the centered one: “what´s your opinion about brand “A”.

4. Furthermore, you can also ask comparative questions, i.e. about more brands, not only yours. Thus, you avoid the problem spontaneity and also obtain key information in comparison with competitors: “Now I would like to know your opinion on a number of brands…” 

5. After having follow all those steps it is commonly useful asking specific questions about your brand toward the end of the interview “what comes spontaneously to your mind when you see this logo?”

6. Whenever participants appears willing only to give monosyllabic answer, these being little more than “yes” or “no” try to formulate depth-provoking questions like “what do you mean by?” or, something that usually works, use long pauses to signify that you want to hear more. In other words, the silence is also a way of enquiring.

7. The most relevant information normally comes after confrontational questions. Whenever there is some contradiction on responses, a good interviewer should confront respondent. You can also use statistic or whatever material that contradict the responses and confront the participant with another point of view.

8. Toward the end of the interview it is common to formulate both confirmatory like “are you saying that…?” and summarizing questions like “Summarizing your opinion, you would be willing to buy this product if…”. Both provide final results with more consistent and also let interviewer give further explanation in case of misunderstanding.

9. Apart from the questions included on the guide in advance, you might, as long as you consider convenient and fruitful, include ad hoc question.

Reference

Lewis, Philip, Mark NK Saunders, and Adrian Thornhill. Research methods for business students. Pearson, 2009.

Silverman, D. (2011). Interpreting qualitative data. Sage Publications Limited.
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