Interviews are best suited for in-depth probing of personal opinions, beliefs and values on intimate or sensitive subject matters, such as personal finance or contraception. They are appropriate too for understanding complex psycho-sociological issues, both in marketing as well as social sciences.
We need to rely on interviews also when there are difficulties in recruiting groups such as in the case of high profile respondents or experts/specialists.
In addition to granularity, interviews provide much more information per respondent, compared to focus groups. Respondents cannot remain passive, nor can they be informed or influenced by other participants. There are also not deterred by the desire to conform, to maintain harmony.
Interviews tend to be individual focussed, often requiring the respondent’s relevant background history. Conventional depth interviews are conducted one-on-one, in person and last about 45-60 minutes. Paired Interviews or Dyads comprise 2 respondents — usually friends or a couple — last about 1 to 1.5 hours and work best for subjects that require joint decisions. Triads comprise 3 respondents usually friends or colleagues, and last about 1.5 hours. Triads are appropriate for subjects pertaining to young children, teenagers or experts.
The empathy between researcher and respondent is the key to the success of depth interviews. The methodology relies heavily on the skills of the researcher in building a rapport with the respondent and creating an atmosphere where the respondent feels uninhibited to express thoughts and emotions. She is skilled in reading body language, and uses projective techniques to allow the respondent to express his feelings about a sensitive subject, in a manner he feels comfortable with.
A wide range of online qual platforms including those covered later, are also conducive for in-depth interviewing.
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