Unformatted text preview: Research Methodology Unit 10 Unit 10 Interviewing Structure
10.1 Meaning of interview
Objectives 10.2 Types of interviews
10.2.1 Structured Directive interview
10.2.2 Unstructured non-directive interview
10.2.3 Focused interview
10.2.4 Clinical interview
10.2.5 Depth interview 10.3 Approaches to the interview 10.4 Qualities of interview 10.5 Merits of interview method 10.6 Demerits of interview method 10.7 Interview techniques in business research
10.7.3 Developing Report
10.7.4 Carrying the interview forward
10.7.5 Additional sittings
10.7.6 Recording the interview
10.7.7 Closing the interview
10.7.8 Editing 10.8 Interview Problems
10.8.1 Inadequate response
10.8.2 Interviewer’s bias
10.8.5 Refusal Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 118 Research Methodology Unit 10 10.8.6 Inaccessibility
10.8.7 Methods and Aims of controlling non-response
10.9 Telephone Interviewing 10.10 Group Interviews
Self assessment Questions
10.12 Terminal questions
10.13 Answers to SAQs and TQs 10.1 Meaning of Interview
Interviewing is one of the prominent methods of data collection. It may be
defined as a two way systematic conversation between an investigator and
an informant, initiated for obtaining information relevant to a specific study. It
involves not only conversation, but also learning from the respondent’s
gesture, facial expressions and pauses, and his environment. Interviewing
requires face to face contact or contact over telephone and calls for
interviewing skills. It is done by using a structured schedule or an
Interviewing may be used either as a main method or as a supplementary
one in studies of persons. Interviewing is the only suitable method for
gathering information from illiterate or less educated respondents. It is useful for collecting a wide range of data from factual demographic data to
highly personal and intimate information relating to a person’s opinions,
attitudes, values, beliefs past experience and future intentions. When
qualitative information is required or probing is necessary to draw out fully,
and then interviewing is required. Where the area covered for the survey is
a compact, or when a sufficient number of qualified interviewers are
available, personal interview is feasible. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 119 Research Methodology Unit 10 Interview is often superior to other data-gathering methods. People are
usually more willing to talk than to write. Once report is established, even
confidential information may be obtained. It permits probing into the context
and reasons for answers to questions.
Interview can add flesh to statistical information. It enables the investigator
to grasp the behavioural context of the data furnished by the respondents.
After studying this lesson you should be able to understand: Types of interviews Structured Directive interview Unstructured non-directive interview Focused interview Clinical interview Depth interview Approaches to the interview Qualities of interview Merits of interview method Demerits of interview method Interview techniques in business research Interview Problems Methods and Aims of controlling non-response Telephone Interviewing Group Interviews 10.2 Types of Interviews
The interview may be classified into: (a) structured or directive interview, (b)
unstructured or non-directive interview, (c) focused interview, (d) clinical
interview and (e) depth interview.
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 120 Research Methodology Unit 10 10.2.1 Structured Directive Interview
This is an interview made with a detailed standardized schedule. The same
questions are put to all the respondents and in the same order. Each
question is asked in the same way in each interview, promoting
measurement reliability. This type of interview is used for large-scale
Advantages: This interview has certain advantages. First, data from one
interview to the next one are easily comparable. Second, recording and
coding data do not pose any problem, and greater precision is achieved.
Lastly, attention is not diverted to extraneous, irrelevant and time consuming
Limitation: However, this type of interview suffers from some limitations.
First, it tends to lose the spontaneity of natural conversation. Second, the
way in which the interview is structured may be such that the respondent’s
views are minimized and the investigator’s own biases regarding the
problem under study are inadvertent introduced. Lastly, the scope for
exploration is limited.
10.2.2 Unstructured or Non-Directive Interview
This is the least structured one. The interviewer encourages the respondent
to talk freely about a give topic with a minimum of prompting or guidance. In
this type of interview, a detailed pre-planned schedule is not used. Only a
broad interview guide is used. The interviewer avoids channelling the
interview directions. Instead he develops a very permissive atmosphere.
Questions are not standardized and ordered in a particular way.
This interviewing is more useful in case studies rather than in surveys. It is
particularly useful in exploratory research where the lines of investigations
are not clearly defined. It is also useful for gathering information on sensitive
topics such as divorce, social discrimination, class conflict, generation gap,
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 121 Research Methodology Unit 10 drug-addiction etc. It provides opportunity to explore the various aspects of
the problem in an unrestricted manner.
Advantages: This type of interview has certain special advantages. It can
closely approximate the spontaneity of a natural conversation. It is less
prone to interviewer’s bias. It provides greater opportunity to explore the
problem in an unrestricted manner.
Limitations: Though the unstructured interview is a potent research
instrument, it is not free from limitations. One of its major limitations is that
the data obtained from one interview is not comparable to the data from the
next. Hence, it is not suitable for surveys. Time may be wasted in
unproductive conversations. By not focusing on one or another facet of a
problem, the investigator may run the risk of being led up blind ally. As there
is no particular order or sequence in this interview, the classification of
responses and coding may required more time. This type of informal
interviewing calls for greater skill than the formal survey interview.
10.2.3 Focused Interview
This is a semi-structured interview where the investigator attempts to focus
the discussion on the actual effects of a given experience to which the
respondents have been exposed. It takes place with the respondents known
to have involved in a particular experience, e.g, seeing a particular film,
viewing a particular program on TV., involved in a train/bus accident, etc.
The situation is analysed prior to the interview. An interview guide specifying
topics relating to the research hypothesis used. The interview is focused on
the subjective experiences of the respondent, i.e., his attitudes and
emotional responses regarding the situation under study. The focused
interview permits the interviewer to obtain details of personal reactions,
specific emotions and the like. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 122 Research Methodology Unit 10 Merits: This type of interview is free from the inflexibility of formal methods,
yet gives the interview a set form and insured adequate coverage of all the
relevant topics. The respondent is asked for certain information, yet he has
plenty of opportunity to present his views. The interviewer is also free to
choose the sequence of questions and determine the extent of probing,
10.2.4 Clinical Interview
This is similar to the focused interview but with a subtle difference. While the
focused interview is concerned with the effects of specific experience,
clinical interview is concerned with broad underlying feelings or motivations
or with the course of the individual’s life experiences.
The ‘personal history’ interview used in social case work, prison
administration, psychiatric clinics and in individual life history research is the
most common type of clinical interview. The specific aspects of the
individual’s life history to be covered by the interview are determined with
reference to the purpose of the study and the respondent is encouraged to
talk freely about them.
10.2.5 Depth Interview
This is an intensive and searching interview aiming at studying the
respondent’s opinion, emotions or convictions on the basis of an interview
guide. This requires much more training on inter-personal skills than
structured interview. This deliberately aims to elicit unconscious as well as
extremely personal feelings and emotions.
This is generally a lengthy procedure designed to encourage free
expression of affectively charged information. It requires probing. The
interviewer should totally avoid advising or showing disagreement. Of
course, he should use encouraging expressions like “uh-huh” or “I see” to
motivate the respondent to continue narration. Some times the interviewer
has to face the problem of affections, i.e. the respondent may hide
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 123 Research Methodology Unit 10 expressing affective feelings. The interviewer should handle such situation
with great care. 10.3 Approaches to Interview
Interviewing as a method of data collection has certain features. They are:
The Participants: The interviewer and the respondent – are strangers.
Hence, the investigator has to get him introduced to the respondent in an
The Relationship between the Participants is a Transitory one: It has a
fixed beginning and termination points. The interview proper is a fleeting,
momentary experience for them.
Interview is not a mere casual conversational exchange: Interview is a
conversation with a specific purpose, viz., obtaining information relevant to a
Interview is a mode of obtaining verbal answers to questions put
verbally: The interaction between the interviewer and the respondent need
not necessarily be on a face-to-face basis, because interview can be
conducted over the telephone also. Although interview is usually a
conversation between two persons, it need not be limited to a single
respondent. It can also be conducted with a group of persons, such as
family members, or a group of children or a group of customers, depending
on the requirements of the study.
Interview is an inter-actionable process: The interaction between the
interviewer and the respondent depends upon how they perceive each
The respondent reacts to the interviewer’s appearance, behaviour, gestures,
facial expression and intonation, his perception of the thrust of the questions
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 124 Research Methodology Unit 10 and his own personal needs. As far as possible, the interviewer should try to
be closer to the social-economic level of the respondents. Moreover, he
should realize that his respondents are under no obligations to extend
One should, therefore, be tactful and be alert to such reactions of the
respondents as lame-excuse, suspicion, reluctance or indifference, and deal
with them suitably. One should not also argue or dispute. One should rather
maintain an impartial and objective attitude. Information furnished by the
respondent in the interview is recorded by the investigator. This poses a
problem of seeing that recording does not interfere with the tempo of
Interviewing is not a standardized process: Like that of a chemical technician; it is rather a flexible psychological process. The implication of
this feature is that the interviewer cannot apply unvarying standardized
technique, because he is dealing with respondents with varying motives and
diverse perceptions. The extent of his success as an interviewer is very
largely dependent upon his insight and skill in dealing with varying sociophysiological situations. 10.4 Qualities of Interviews
The requirements or conditions necessary for a successful interview are:
Data availability: The needed information should be available with the
respondent. He should be able to conceptualize it in terms to the study, and
be capable of communicating it.
Role perception: The respondent should understand his role and know
what is required of him. He should know what is a relevant and how
complete it should be. He can learn much of this from the interviewer’s
introduction, explanations and questioning procedure.
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 125 Research Methodology Unit 10 The interviewer should also know his role: He should establish a
permissive atmosphere and encourage frank and free conversation. He
should not affect the interview situation through subjective attitude and
Respondent’s motivation: The respondent should be willing to respond
and give accurate answer. This depends partly on the interviewer’s
approach and skill. The interview has interest in it for the purpose of his
research, but the respondent has no personal interest in it. Therefore, the
interviewer should establish a friendly relationship with the respondent, and
create in him an interest in the subject-matter of the study. The interviewer
should try to reduce the effect of demotivating factors like desire to get on
with other activities, embarrassment at ignorance, dislike of the interview
content, suspicious about the interviewer, and fear of consequence, He
should also try to build up the effect of motivating actors like curiosity,
loneliness, politeness, sense of duty, respect of the research agency and
liking for the interviewer.
The above requirement reminds that the interview is an interaction process.
The investigator should keep this in mind and take care to see that his
appearance and behaviour do not distort the interview situation. 10.5 Merits of Interview Method
There are several real advantages to personal interviewing. First the greatest value of this method is the depth and detail of
information that can be secured. When used with well conceived
schedules, an interview can obtain a great deal of information. It far
exceeds mail survey in amount and quality of data that can be secured. Second, the interviewer can do more to improve the percentage of
responses and the quality of information received than other method. He Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 126 Research Methodology Unit 10 can note the conditions of the interview situation, and adopt appropriate
approaches to overcome such problems as the respondent’s unwillingness, incorrect understanding of question, suspicion, etc. Third, the interviewer can gather other supplemental information like
economic level, living conditions etc. through observation of the
respondent’s environment. Fourth, the interviewer can use special scoring devices, visual materials
and the like in order to improve the quality of interviewing. Fifth, the accuracy and dependability of the answers given by the
respondent can be checked by observation and probing. Last, interview is flexible and adaptable to individual situations. Even
more, control can be exercised over the interview situation. 10.6 Demerits of Interview Method
Interviewing is not free limitations. Its greatest drawback is that it is costly both in money and time. Second, the interview results are often adversely affected by
interviewer’s mode of asking questions and interactions, and incorrect
recording and also by the respondent’s faulty perception, faulty memory,
inability to articulate etc. Third, certain types of personal and financial information may be refused
in face-to face interviews. Such information might be supplied more
willingly on mail questionnaires, especially if they are to be unsigned. Fourth, interview poses the problem of recording information obtained
from the respondents. No full proof system is available. Note taking is
invariably distracting to both the respondent and the interviewer and
affects the thread of the conversation. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 127 Research Methodology Unit 10 Last, interview calls for highly interviewers. The availability of such
persons is limited and the training of interviewers is often a long and
costly process. 10.7 Interviewing techniques in Business Research
The interview process consists of the following stages: Preparation Introduction Developing rapport Carrying the interview forward Recording the interview Closing the interview 10.7.1 Preparation
The interviewing requires some preplanning and preparation. The
interviewer should keep the copies of interview schedule/guide (as the case
may be) ready to use. He should have the list of names and addresses of
respondents, he should regroup them into contiguous groups in terms of
location in order to save time and cost in traveling. The interviewer should
find out the general daily routine of the respondents in order to determine
the suitable timings for interview. Above all, he should mentally prepare
himself for the interview. He should think about how he should approach a
respondent, what mode of introduction he could adopt, what situations he
may have to face and how he could deal with them. The interviewer may
come across such situations as respondents; avoidance, reluctance,
suspicion, diffidence, inadequate responses, distortion, etc. The investigator
should plan the strategies for dealing with them. If such preplanning is not
done, he will be caught unaware and fail to deal appropriately when he
actually faces any such situation. It is possible to plan in advance and keep
the plan and mind flexible and expectant of new development.
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 128 Research Methodology Unit 10 10.7.2 Introduction
The investigator is a stranger to the respondents. Therefore, he should be
properly introduced to each of the respondents. What is the proper mode of
introduction? There is no one appropriate universal mode of introduction.
Mode varies according to the type of respondents. When making a study of
an organization or institution, the head of the organization should be
approached first and his cooperation secured before contacting the sample
inmates/employees. When studying a community or a cultural group, it is
essential to approach the leader first and to enlist cooperation. For a survey
or urban households, the research organization’s letter of introduction and
the interviewer’s identity card can be shown. In these days of fear of
opening the door for a stranger, residents cooperation can be easily
secured, if the interviewer attempts to get him introduced through a person
known to them, say a popular person in the area e.g., a social worker. For
interviewing rural respondents, the interviewer should never attempt to
approach them along with someone from the revenue department, for they
would immediately hide themselves, presuming that they are being
contacted for collection of land revenue or subscription to some government
bond. He should not also approach them through a local political leader,
because persons who do not belong to his party will not cooperate with the
interviewer. It is rather desirable to approach the rural respondents through
the local teacher or social worker.
After getting himself introduced to the respondent in the most appropriate
manner, the interviewer can follow a sequence of procedures as under, in
order to motivate the respondent to permit the interview:
1. With a smile, greet the respondent in accordance with his cultural
2. Identify the respondent by name.
3. Describe the method by which the respondent was selected.
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 129 Research Methodology Unit 10 4. Mention the name of the organization conducting the research.
5. Assure the anonymity or confidential nature of the interview.
6. Explain their usefulness of the study.
7. Emphasize the value of respondent’s cooperation, making such
statements as “You are among the few in a position to supply the
information”. “Your response is invaluable.” “I have come to learn from
your experience and knowledge”.
10.7.3 Developing Rapport
Before starting the research interview, the interviewer should establish a
friendly relationship with the respondent. This is described as “rapport”. It
means establishing a relationship of confidence and understanding between
the interviewer and the respondent. It is a skill which depends primarily on
the interviewer’s commonsense, experience, sensitivity, and keen observation.
Start the conversation with a general topic of interest such as weather,
current news, sports event, or the like perceiving the probable of the
respondent from his context. Such initial conversation may create a friendly
atmosphere and a warm interpersonal relationship and mutual understanding. However, the interviewer should “guard against the over
rapport” as cautioned by Herbert Hyman. Too much identification and too
much courtesy result in tailoring replied to the image of a “nice interviewer.”
The interviewer should use his discretion in striking a happy medium.
10.7.4 Carrying the Interview Forward
After establishing rapport, the technical task of asking questions from the
interview schedule starts. This task requires care, self-restraint, alertness
and ability to listen with understanding, respect and curiosity. In carrying on
this task of gathering information from the respondent by putting questions
to him, the following guidelines may be followed:
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 130 Research Methodology Unit 10 1. Start the interview. Carry it on in an informal and natural
2. Ask all the applicable questions in the same order as they appear on
the schedule without any elucidation and change in the wording. Ask
all the applicable questions listed in the schedule. Do not take answers
for granted. 3. If interview guide is used, the interviewer may tailor his questions to
each respondent, covering of course, the areas to be investigated.
4. Know the objectives of each question so as to make sure that the
answers adequately satisfy the question objectives.
5. If a question is not understood, repeat it slowly with proper emphasis
and appropriate explanation, when necessary.
6. Talk all answers naturally, never showing disapproval or surprise.
When the respondent does not meet the interruptions, denial,
contradiction and other harassment, he may feel free and may not try
to withhold information. He will be motivated to communicate when the
atmosphere is permissive and the listener’s attitude is non judgmental
and is genuinely absorbed in the revelations.
7. Listen quietly with patience and humility. Give not only undivided
attention, but also personal warmth. At the same time, be alert and
analytic to incomplete, non specific and inconsistent answers, but
avoid interrupting the flow of information. If necessary, jot down
unobtrusively the points which need elaboration or verification for later
and timelier probing. The appropriate technique for this probing is to
ask for further clarification in such a polite manner as “I am not sure, I
understood fully, is this….what you meant?”
8. Neither argue nor dispute. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 131 Research Methodology 9. Unit 10 Show genuine concern and interest in the ideas expressed by the
respondent; at the same time, maintain an impartial and objective
attitude. 10. Should not reveal your own opinion or reaction. Even when you are
asked of your views, laugh off the request, saying “Well, your opinions
are more important than mine.” 11. At times the interview “runs dry” and needs re-stimulation. Then use
such expressions as “Uh-huh” or “That interesting” or “I see” “can you
tell me more about that?” and the like.
12. When the interviewee fails to supply his reactions to related past
experiences, represent the stimulus situation, introducing appropriate
questions which will aid in revealing the past. “Under what
circumstances did such and such a phenomenon occur?” or “How did
you feel about it and the like. 13. At times, the conversation may go off the track. Be alert to discover
drifting, steer the conversation back to the track by some such remark
as, “you know, I was very much interested in what you said a moment
ago. Could you tell me more about it?”
14. When the conversation turns to some intimate subjects, and
particularly when it deals with crises in the life of the individual,
emotional blockage may occur. Then drop the subject for the time
being and pursue another line of conversation for a while so that a less
direct approach to the subject can be made later.
15. When there is a pause in the flow of information, do not hurry the
interview. Take it as a matter of course with an interested look or a
sympathetic half-smile. If the silence is too prolonged, introduce a
stimulus saying “You mentioned that… What happened then?” Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 132 Research Methodology Unit 10 10.7.5 Additional Sittings
In the case of qualitative interviews involving longer duration, one single
sitting will not do, as it would cause interview weariness. Hence, it is
desirable to have two or more sittings with the consent of the respondent.
10.7.6 Recording the Interview
It is essential to record responses as they take place. If the note taking is
done after the interview, a good deal of relevant information may be lost.
Nothing should be made in the schedule under respective question. It
should be complete and verbatim. The responses should not be
summarized or paraphrased. How can complete recording be made without
interrupting the free flow of conversation? Electronic transcription through
devices like tape recorder can achieve this. It has obvious advantages over
note-taking during the interview. But it also has certain disadvantages.
Some respondents may object to or fear “going on record”. Consequently
the risk of lower response rate will rise especially for sensitive topics.
If the interviewer knows short-hand, he can use it with advantage.
Otherwise, he can write rapidly by abbreviating word and using only key
words and the like. However, even the fast writer may fail to record all that is
said at conversational speed. At such times, it is useful to interrupt by some
such comment as “that seems to be a very important point, would you mind
repeating it, so that I can get your words exactly.” The respondent is usually
flattered by this attention and the rapport is not disturbed.
The interviewer should also record all his probes and other comments on
the schedule, in brackets to set them off from responses. With the precoded structured questions, the interviewer’s task is easy. He has to simply
ring the appropriate code or tick the appropriate box, as the case may be.
He should not make mistakes by carelessly ringing or ticketing a wrong
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 133 Research Methodology Unit 10 10.7.7 Closing the Interview
After the interview is over, take leave off the respondent thanking him with a
friendly smile. In the case of a qualitative interview of longer duration, select
the occasion for departure more carefully. Assembling the papers for putting
them in the folder at the time of asking the final question sets the stage for a
final handshake, a thank-you and a good-bye. If the respondent desires to
know the result of the survey, note down his name and address so that a
summary of the result could be posted to him when ready.
At the close of the interview, the interviewer must edit the schedule to check
that he has asked all the questions and recorded all the answers and that
there is no inconsistency between answers. Abbreviations in recording must
be replaced by full words. He must ensure that everything is legible. It is
desirable to record a brief sketch of his impressions of the interview and
observational notes on the respondent’s living environment, his attitude to
the survey, difficulties, if any, faced in securing his cooperation and the
interviewer’s assessment of the validity of the respondent’s answers. 10.8 Interview Problems
In personal interviewing, the researcher must deal with two major problems,
inadequate response, non-response and interviewer’s bias.
10.8.1 Inadequate response
Kahn and Cannel distinguish five principal symptoms of inadequate
response. They are:
o partial response, in which the respondent gives a relevant but
incomplete answer o non-response, when the respondent remains silent or refuses to answer
the question Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 134 Research Methodology o Unit 10 irrelevant response, in which the respondent’s answer is not relevant to
the question asked o inaccurate response, when the reply is biased or distorted and o verbalized response problem, which arises on account of respondent’s
failure to understand a question or lack of information necessary for
answering it. 10.8.2 Interviewer’s Bias
The interviewer is an important cause of response bias. He may resort to
cheating by ‘cooking up’ data without actually interviewing. The interviewers
can influence the responses by inappropriate suggestions, word emphasis,
tone of voice and question rephrasing. His own attitudes and expectations
about what a particular category of respondents may say or think may bias
the data. Another source of response of the interviewer’s characteristics
(education, apparent social status, etc) may also bias his answers. Another
source of response bias arises from interviewer’s perception of the situation,
if he regards the assignment as impossible or sees the results of the survey
as possible threats to personal interests or beliefs he is likely to introduce
As interviewers are human beings, such biasing factors can never be
overcome completely, but their effects can be reduced by careful selection
and training of interviewers, proper motivation and supervision, standardization or interview procedures (use of standard wording in survey
questions, standard instructions on probing procedure and so on) and
standardization of interviewer behaviour. There is need for more research
on ways to minimize bias in the interview. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 135 Research Methodology Unit 10 10.8.3 Non-response
Non–response refers to failure to obtain responses from some sample
respondents. There are many sources of non-response; non-availability,
refusal, incapacity and inaccessibility.
Some respondents may not be available at home at the time of call. This
depends upon the nature of the respondent and the time of calls. For
example, employed persons may not be available during working hours.
Farmers may not be available at home during cultivation season. Selection
of appropriate timing for calls could solve this problem. Evenings and
weekends may be favourable interviewing hours for such respondents. If
someone is available, then, line respondent’s hours of availability can be
ascertained and the next visit can be planned accordingly.
Some persons may refuse to furnish information because they are illdisposed, or approached at the wrong hour and so on. Although, a hardcore
of refusals remains, another try or perhaps another approach may find some
of them cooperative. Incapacity or inability may refer to illness which
prevents a response during the entire survey period. This may also arise on
account of language barrier.
Some respondents may be inaccessible. Some may not be found due to
migration and other reasons. Non-responses reduce the effective sample
size and its representativeness.
10.8.7 Methods and Aims of control of non-response
Kish suggests the following methods to reduce either the percentage of nonresponse or its effects: Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 136 Research Methodology Unit 10 1. Improved procedures for collecting data are the most obvious remedy
for non-response. Improvements advocated are (a) guarantees of
anonymity, (b) motivation of the respondent to co-operate (c) arousing
the respondents’ interest with clever opening remarks and questions, (d)
advance notice to the respondents.
2. Call-backs are most effective way of reducing not-at-homes in personal
interviews, as are repeated mailings to no-returns in mail surveys.
3. Substitution for the non-response is often suggested as a remedy.
Usually this is a mistake because the substitutes resemble the
responses rather than the non-responses. Nevertheless, beneficial
substitution methods can sometimes be designed with reference to
important characteristics of the population. For example, in a farm
management study, the farm size is an important variable and if the
sampling is based on farm size, substitution for a respondent with a
particular size holding by another with the holding of the same size is
Attempts to reduce the percentage or effects on non-responses aim at
reducing the bias caused by differences on non-respondents from
respondents. The non-response bias should not be confused with the
reduction of sampled size due to non-response. The latter effect can be
easily overcome, either by anticipating the size of non-response in designing
the sample size or by compensating for it with a supplement. These
adjustments increase the size of the response and the sampling precision,
but they do not reduce the non-response percentage or bias. 10.9 Telephone Interviewing
Telephone interviewing is a non-personal method of data collection. It may
be used as a major method or supplementary method. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 137 Research Methodology Unit 10 It will be useful in the following situations:
1. When the universe is composed of those persons whose names are
listed in telephone directories, e.g. business houses, business
executives, doctors, other professionals.
2. When the study required responses to five or six simple questions. E.g.
Radio or Television program survey.
3. When the survey must be conducted in a very short period of time,
provided the units of study are listed in telephone directory.
4. When the subject is interesting or important to respondents, e.g. a
survey relating to trade conducted by a trade association or a chamber
of commerce, a survey relating to a profession conducted by the
concerned professional association.
5. When the respondents are widely scattered. Advantages: The advantages of telephone interview are:
1. The survey can be completed at very low cost, because telephone
survey does not involve travel time and cost and all calls can be made
from a single location.
2. Information can be collected in a short period of time. 5 to 10 interviews
can be conducted per hours.
3. Quality of response is good, because interviewer bias is reduced as
there is no face-to-face contact between the interviewer and the
4. This method of interviewing is less demanding upon the interviewer.
5. It does not involve field work.
6. Individuals who could not be reached or who might not care to be
interviewed personally can be contacted easily.
Disadvantages: Telephone interview has several limitations:
1. It is limited to persons with listed telephones. The sample will be
distorted. If the universe includes persons not on phone in several
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 138 Research Methodology Unit 10 counties like India only a few persons have phone facility and that too in
urban areas only. Telephone facility is very rare in rural areas. Hence,
the method is not useful for studying the general population.
2. There is a limit to the length of interview. Usually, a call cannot last over
five minutes. Only five or six simple questions can be asked. Hence,
telephone cannot be used for a longer questionnaire. 3. The type of information to be collected is limited to what can be given in
simple, short answers of a few words. Hence, telephone is not suitable
for complex surveys, and there is no possibility of obtaining detailed
4. If the questions cover personal matters, most respondents will not
cooperate with the interviewer.
5. The respondent’s characteristics and environment cannot be observed.
6. It is not possible to use visual aids like charts, maps, illustrations or
7. It is rather difficult to establish rapport between the respondent and the
8. There is no possibility to ensure the identity of the interviewer and to
overcome suspicions. 10.10 Group Interviews
A group interview may be defined as a method of collecting primary data in
which a number of individuals with a common interest interact with each
other. In a personal interview, the flow of information is multi dimensional.
The group may consist of about six to eight individuals with a common
interest. The interviewer acts as the discussion leader. Free discussion is
encouraged on some aspect of the subject under study. The discussion
leader stimulates the group members to interact with each other. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 139 Research Methodology Unit 10 The desired information may be obtained through self-administered
questionnaire or interview, with the discussion serving as a guide to ensure
consideration of the areas of concern. In particular, the interviewers look for
evidence of common elements of attitudes, beliefs, intentions and opinions
among individuals in the group. At the same time, he must be aware that a
single comment by a member can provide important insight.
Samples for group interview can be obtained through schools, clubs and
other organized groups. The group interview technique can be employed by
researchers in studying people’s reactions on public amenities, public health
projects, welfare schemes etc. It is a popular method in marketing research
to evaluate new product or service concepts, brands names, packages,
promotional strategies and attitudes. When an organization needs a great
variety of information in as much detail as possible at a relatively low cost
and in a short period of time, the group interview technique is more useful. It
can be used to generate primary data in the exploratory phase of a project.
Advantages: The advantages of this technique are:
1. The respondents comment freely and in detail.
2. The method is highly flexible. The flexibility helps the research work with
new concepts or topics which have not been previously investigated.
3. Visual aids can be used.
4. A group can be interviewed in the time required for one personal
5. The client can watch the interview unobserved.
6. Respondents are more articulated in a group than in the individual
7. The technique eliminates the physical limitations inherent in individual
interviews. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 140 Research Methodology Unit 10 Disadvantages: This method is not free from draw backs.
1. It is difficult to get a representative sample.
2. There is the possibility of the group being dominated by one individual.
3. The respondents may answer to please the interviewer or the other
members in the group.
4. Nevertheless, the advantage of this technique outweighs the disadvantages and the technique is found to be useful for surveys on
topics of common interest.
Self assessment Questions
State whether the following statements are true or false: 1. This is an interview made with a details standardized schedule.
2. A semi-structured interview where the investigator attempts to focus the
discussion on the actual effects of a given experience to which the
respondents have been exposed. 3. The focused interview is concerned with the effects of specific
experience; clinical interview is concerned with broad underlying feelings
or motivations or with the course of the individual’s life experiences. 10.11 Summary
Interviewing is one of the prominent methods of data collection. The
interview may be classified into: (a) structured or directive interview,
(b) unstructured or non-directive interview, (c) focused interview, and
(d) clinical interview and (e) depth interview. Structured interview is made
with a details standardized schedule. The same questions are put to all the
respondents and in the same order. Non-directive method is the least structured one. The interviewer encourages the respondent to talk freely
about a given topic with a minimum of prompting or guidance. In focused
type of interview, a detailed pre-planned schedule is not used. Clinical
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 141 Research Methodology Unit 10 interview is a semi-structured interview where the investigator attempts to
focus the discussion on the actual effects of a given experience to which the
respondents have been exposed. This is similar to the focused interview but
with a subtle difference. While the focused interview is concerned with the
effects of specific experience, clinical interview is concerned with broad
underlying feelings or motivations or with the course of the individual’s life
experiences. This is an intensive and searching interview aiming at studying
the respondent’s opinion, emotions or convictions on the basis of an
interview guide. Detailed interview requires much more training on interpersonal skills than structured interview. This deliberately aims to elicit
unconscious as well as extremely personal feelings and emotions.
Interviewing as a method of data collection has certain features. They are:
1. The requirements or conditions necessary for a successful interview are:
2. There are several real advantages to personal interviewing.
3. Interviewing is not free limitations.
In personal interviewing, the researcher must deal with two major problems,
inadequate response, non-response and interviewer’s bias. Telephone
interviewing is a non-personal method of data collection. It may be used as
a major method or supplementary method. It will be useful in the following
situations. A group interview may be defined as a method of collecting
primary data in which a number of individuals with a common interest
interact with each other. In a personal interview the flow of information is
multi dimensional. The group may consist of about six to eight individuals
with a common interest. The interviewer acts as the discussion. The quality
of data collected depends ultimately upon the capabilities of interviewers.
Hence, careful selection and proper training of interviewers is essential. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 142 Research Methodology Unit 10 10.12 Terminal questions
1. What is the meaning of Interview method?
2. Briefly explain the types of Interviews
3. What is Structured Directive Interview?
4. What is Unstructured or Non-Directive Interview?
5. What is Focused Interview?
6. What is Clinical Interview?
7. What is Depth Interview?
8. Explain the approaches to Interview.
9. What are the qualities of Interviews?
10. What are the advantages of Interviews?
11. What are the limitations of Interviews?
12. Briefly explain Interviewing techniques in Business Research
13. What are the Problems encountered in interview? 10.13 Answers to SAQs and TQs
1. Section 10.1
2. Section 10.2
3. Section 10.2.1
4. Section 10.2.2
5. Section 10.2.3
6. Section 10.2.4
7. Section 10.2.5
Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 143 Research Methodology Unit 10 8. Section 10.3
9. Section 10.4
10. Section 10.5
11. Section 10.6
12. Section 10.7
13. Section 10.8 Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 144 ...
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- Spring '10
- Semi-structured interview, Sikkim Manipal University