Research methods in social science studies are critical because they determine the legitimacy, success, and dependability of the findings. Social scientists use qualitative research methods to study human behavior. It helps to “describe the quality and nature of how people behave, experience, and comprehend things” (Alshenqeeti, 2014, p. 39). Most researchers gather qualitative data via questionnaires and interviews.
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Nonetheless, interviewing is effective in gathering qualitative data because it enables the investigators to obtain detailed information. Alshenqeeti (2014) posits, “Interviewing is a valuable method for exploring the construction and negotiation of meanings in a natural setting” (p. 41). It enables the researchers to interact with interviewees and make a clarification on areas that are not clear. The success of interviewing depends on thorough preparation.
The researcher has to abide by fundamental principles, which govern interviewing. They are meticulous preparation, the establishment of rapport, formulation of relevant questions, and paying attention to what the interviewees say. This article will analyze the four principles of interviewing and how they can be applied to guarantee the success of the research.
Principles of Interviewing
Mastery of interviewing procedures is paramount to the success of social science studies. The tenets of interviewing determine the techniques that researchers apply in a review. Gathering adequate information regarding the research participants is imperative. It goes a long way towards establishing a healthy relationship with participants and deciding the kind of questions to ask during the study.
Preparation is one of the essential principles of interviewing. According to Alshenqeeti (2014), successful interviewing demands preparation and persistence. At times, people may be reluctant to participate in a study. The interviewer has to be persistent if they are to persuade individuals to partake in the study. Preparation entails conducting background research of the interviewees to determine their aptness. Interviewing without considering the background of the interviewees may result in the researcher not interviewing the right people.
Eventually, one may end up collecting the wrong information or compiling incomprehensive findings. Jamshed (2014) argues that understanding the background of the interviewee helps to figure out the questions that can rouse responses. Apart from conducting background research on the interviewees, it is imperative to prepare for an interview by gathering secondary data regarding the study questions. It does not only help in the formulation of the research questions but also verification of the information obtained from the participants.
Interviewees are likely to offer comprehensive information if they are comfortable with the researcher. Establishing rapport can go a long way towards ensuring that the interviewees do not conceal information that might be vital to the study. Interviewees are unlikely to divulge information if they do not understand the importance of the interview. Thus, the interviewer should establish a relationship by making them understand the benefits of partaking in the study.
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The use of open-ended questions helps to encourage communication among the participants. Jamshed (2014) avers, “The ability to demonstrate a genuine interest in a role and organization ensures that the interview starts on a positive note” (p. 87). Moreover, paying attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues of the respondents makes them feel connected.
Thorough preparation enables the pollster to establish essential themes for a study. On the other hand, the ideas serve as guidelines for the type of questions to ask during the interview. Potter and Hepburn (2015) allege that a conversation should start with gathering vital data about the education, age, family information, and occupation of the interviewee. The data help to create a friendly atmosphere for the interview. One must ensure that the interview questions follow the primary themes and objectives of the study. A good interview comprises open- and closed-ended questions. Not all questions require explanations.
However, in areas where the researcher involves clarification, it is imperative to use open-ended questions to give the respondent room to elaborate on their answers. One must avoid using intimidating questions as they may discourage the participants from divulging vital information.
Great interviewers are good listeners. Paying attention to what the interviewees say enables a researcher to gather accurate information. Additionally, it helps to establish a bond with the respondents. Rephrasing the answers which an interviewee gives helps them to know that you are paying attention (Potter & Hepburn, 2015). Listening enables the pollster to decipher the body language of the participant, therefore knowing how to frame the successive questions.
Application of the Principles
Preparation, the establishment of rapport, and formulation of questions are the three principles that are most applicable in interviewing. Before the interview, I prepare for the exercise by gathering secondary information about the research question. Additionally, I investigate the background of the participants to help identify the most appropriate individuals to interrogate for the study. Secondary information about the research theme assists in the formulation of the study questions.
Furthermore, I appraise the interviewees’ responses based on secondary knowledge. Preparation entails setting the objectives of the research. It goes a long way towards ensuring that I select the right participants and collect the necessary information. Also, I choose the research questions in advance to enable me to gather detailed information.
The success of an interview depends on whether the investigator and the respondent read from the same page (Potter & Hepburn, 2015). I make an effort to establish mutual liking as a way to build rapport. Nevertheless, I try to observe professionalism throughout the interview. Dressing code is significant in building rapport. Hence, I ensure that am well dressed when going for an interview. I avoid beginning my conversation in an exceedingly casual approach.
Furthermore, I use open-ended questions to ensure that the respondents stay active throughout the meeting. The use of open-ended questions helps to gather in-depth information and make clarifications. I assure that the questions are in line with the research themes and objectives to avoid time wastage. Moreover, I do not ask a lot of questions as this may consume a lot of time and affect the participant’s attention.
Challenge in Conducting Interview
The major challenge that I encountered during interviewing was establishing rapport with participants. The desire to gather accurate information made it hard for me to create a tranquil atmosphere for the interview. I tried to maintain a level of detachment from the respondents to facilitate the gathering of objective and scientific data. In the process, I realized that the interviewees could not divulge detailed information because they were not comfortable.
I resolved to establish an understanding with the participants to save the situation. The objective was to reconcile the interviewees to the research objectives and make them appreciate the significance of the study. Eventually, I was able to establish a tranquil atmosphere and persuade the participants to offer comprehensive responses to the research questions.
Effectiveness of Interviewing
Interviewing is an efficient way of addressing social science-related research questions. The method helps to gather comprehensive qualitative data as it facilitates accurate screening. The interviewee cannot provide wrong information regarding race, age, and gender. Non-verbal cues convey significant data, which is hard to collect using other methods. Interviewing enables the researcher to read the body language of the respondent.
The researcher can use such information to structure successive questions, therefore avoiding possible discomfort. The study confirmed interviewing as the most effective method of gathering information in social science studies. It would be challenging to capture the behaviors and emotions of the interviewees using other methods of data collection. Consequently, it would be hard to guarantee the accuracy of the findings.
Interviewing is the most effective method of conducting social science-related studies. The success of the interviewing depends on four primary principles, which are preparation, rapport, questions, and listening. Preparation entails gathering background information about the research question and participants. It helps in identifying the goals of the study and formulating research questions. Building rapport entails establishing a healthy relationship with the participants and ensuring them about their security and confidentiality. A healthy relationship facilitates the collection of accurate data. Interviewees are unwilling to share information in an atmosphere characterized by suspicion.
A good interview should comprise structured and non-structured questions. Using structured and non-structured questions allow the researcher to gather in-depth information. Paying attention to the interviewees’ responses helps to understand messages hidden in verbal and non-verbal cues. The researcher should rephrase the respondent’s answers and make clarifications on areas that are not clear.
Alshenqeeti, H. (2014). Interviewing as a data collection method: A critical review. English Linguistic Research, 3(1), 39-44.
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Jamshed, S. (2014). Qualitative research method- Interviewing and observation. Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacy, 5(4), 87-88.
Potter, J., & Hepburn, A. (2015). Qualitative interviews in psychology: Problems and possibilities. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 2(1), 281-307.