Day 2 Session 11 Rubin and Meinzen-Dick_interviews
Key Informant Interviews
Deborah Rubin and
A4NH Gender-Nutrition Methods Workshop
December 6-7, Nairobi, Kenya
• Sampling: whom to interview as a key
• Technique: how to interview key informants
• Who are Key Informants?
– Specialized knowledge
• About programs (government officials, program staff)
• About context (local government, local leaders)
• One person who can answer for many (efficiency)
– Influential opinions
• Consider how “courtesy calls” can become KII
• Key Informants often shape the research
questions, so be aware of
– Elite capture, “official” story line
– Gender bias: are there knowledgeable women you
• Be aware that KII gives you their perspective,
not necessarily an abstract “truth”
• What are they telling you (and what are they
not telling you)?
KII INFO FOR GENDER & NUTRITION
• Perceptions of gender roles
• Perceptions of nutrition
• What they are trying to do in their programs
• Official IRB standards of anonymity are higher
for standard surveys than for KII of officials
• Release of KII data (and even some reports
based on KII) can ruin careers of KII, put them
• Journalism vs research
• The informational interview is a conversation
with a purpose. It needs to combine both
social and professional elements.
• At the start, take time for a greeting and offer
an explanation of the purpose of your
• Express ignorance. Show respect. The
purpose of the interview is for you to learn
from the informant.
TRY TO MOVE BEYOND STEROTYPES
CONDUCT OF INTERVIEWS
• Have key questions/information needs in
mind, but also be ready to follow up, probe
• Watch body language, areas of discomfort.
• Recording options: trade-offs between complete
recording and comfort of respondent
– Voice recording
– Computer notes
– Hand notes
– Memory (written up shortly thereafter)
CONDUCTING INTERVIEWS ON GENDER
• Context: Women and men interviewees may respond
differently to women or men interviewers. Married
women may respond differently when interviewed
alone or with her husband; Married men may respond
differently when interviewed along or with his
wife/wives. Both may respond differently when alone
or with others.
• Content: Gendered access to information means
different respondents may tell different stories – both
may be correct.
• Collect/check basic information.
• Descriptive questions are broad and general and
allow people to describe their experiences and
their daily activities, e.g., “Tell me about a typical
• Structural questions explore responses to
descriptive questions. They are used to
understand how the respondent organizes
DURING THE INTERVIEW
• Avoid asking the informant questions that make him
or her do the analytical work for you.
• Instead of asking, “What do you mean that it is “too
hard” to find workers at planting time?” you might ask,
“What efforts did you take to find workers at planting
time?” or “Give me an example of what you did to find
• Avoid asking multi-part questions, but do follow up if
answers are not clear.
ENDING THE INTERVIEW
• At the end of the interview, briefly summarize
the main points to check that you have
understood the interviewee’s position.
• Ask if the informant has questions for you.