IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS Depth interviewing is a different form of qualitative research. In Market Research in Practice (2004), Paul and Nick Hague and Carol-Ann Morgan identify six situations where depth interviews would be a more appropriate choice as a qualitative research technique than focus groups. These situations are: ■ when respondents are geographically scattered; ■ if it is important to avoid other people influencing the responses given by an individual (as may occur in a focus group); ■ where the aim is to collect individual case stories from an individual; ■ where significant comment is needed from an individual (in a focus group each person usually only talks for around 10 minutes during a group lasting one and a half hours); ■ where individuals’ responses and behaviour need to be tracked; ■ where the topic area is sensitive (such as talking about personal wealth, personal hygiene, drugs or alcohol) (Hague et al , 2004: 62). Face-to-face and telephone interviews Depth interviews can be conducted either face to face or by the tele- phone. These are not usually complementary methods, except where a telephone has been used to recruit a respondent or to make an appointment for an interview. Each of these approaches has dif- ferent strengths, and the method to choose will depend on the spe- cific circumstances. Qualitative Research 47
In a face-to-face interview, the interviewer can observe the respon- dent’s body language and facial expression. It is also easier to ‘pace’ the interview. The telephone, on the other hand, is becoming a method of choice for many respondents, especially those that lead busy lives and have little spare time. However, it is more difficult with a tele- phone interview to gauge a respondent’s demeanour and whether or not he or she is getting bored with the interview (although experience has shown there are obvious clues that respondents give out when they are reaching this point). In business-to-business research, a tele- phone interview can be easier to arrange than a personal interview, especially among senior management in large companies. The depth interview questionnaire Depth interview questionnaires can take two forms, semi-structured or structured. In a structured approach, the interviewer has a strict set of questions to be followed. In a semi-structured interview there is more latitude for the interviewer to explore matters that are raised in the interview itself. Both approaches use open-ended questions (these are questions that do not have a pre-set list of potential answers, but a space for recording responses ‘word for word’). If the purpose of the research is to elicit the words and phrases that people use to help with the development of a questionnaire for the next stage of the research, or to aid the shaping of communications about products and services, a semi-structured approach is best.
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