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Interviewing skills


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Session 3B from City University London's Researchers' Development Day held on Friday 4th May 2012.

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Interviewing skills

  1. 1. Interviewing is a method of data collection. Transcripts of interviews can be analysed in a variety of ways depending on the research question and the status attributed to the text by the researcher.Therefore, one and the same transcript can tell us about a range of different (social and/or psychological) phenomena.
  2. 2. The status of the „text‟Is determined by what we want the text totell us something about.Eg. an account could tell us somethingabout the nature of the phenomenon ofinterest, about the (psychology of the)person who is providing the account, orabout the cultural resources and meaningsthat are available in relation to the topic.
  3. 3. The research questionThe research question identifies what it isthat we want to find out whilst the interviewagenda contains questions which (wehope) will generate the kind of data whichwill help us answer the research question.
  4. 4. Epistemological positionThe research question and the status givento the text together imply (and areunderpinned by) an epistemological position.Possible positions include realist,phenomenological and social constructionistpositions.
  5. 5. PositionsRealism (naïve/direct or critical)Phenomenology (descriptive orinterpretative)Social constructionism (moderate or radical)
  6. 6. The formulation of the research question,the interview agenda, criteria for recruitingparticipants, style of interviewing, choice oftranscription notation, and method ofanalysis are all directly informed by theepistemological position adopted by theresearcher.
  7. 7. Research questionsA realist question:“How do people make decision aboutwhether or not to donate a kidney ?”A phenomenological question:“What is it like to donate a kidney ?”A social constructionist question:“How is kidney donation constructed ?”
  8. 8. However…“The interview is a specific form ofconversation where knowledge is producedthrough the interaction between aninterviewer and an interviewee” (Kvale,2007: xvii).This means that there are some genericguidelines for conducting productive andethical interviews.
  9. 9.  Descriptive questions: “What happened ?” eg. life histories, anecdotes, activities, events Structural questions: “Why ?” “How ?” organisation of understanding; categories of meaning, assumptions, and frameworks for making sense of the world
  10. 10.  Contrast questions: “Worst/best ?” “Difference between ?” criteria for evaluation, comparisons Evaluative questions: “Like/dislike ?” feelings, responses (eg. approval/disapproval; preferences)
  11. 11. Guidelines for semi-structured interviewing• Adopt an attitude of non-judgmental curiosity• Ensure that the interviewee feels safe and comfortable• Use the interviewee‟s own terms• Aim for conceptual equivalence (rather than lexical comparability)• Restate the interviewee‟s comments and incorporate them into new questions
  12. 12. • Express ignorance• Request examples• Move from the public to the personal• Appraise the interview as a communicative event• Appraise the effect of the interviewer on the interviewee
  13. 13. Ethics• Obtain informed consent• Ensure confidentiality• Keep data safe and secure• Do not share data without permission• Ensure interviewee‟s comfort and safety• Monitor the interviewee‟s response to being interviewed• Discontinue the interview if necessary
  14. 14. • Ask permission to record the interview• Invite interviewee to ask questions at the end• Provide opportunity for debriefing• Refer to relevant sources of support if necessary