There are several different ways to conduct an interview, and we will briefly outline some of the most popular methods that researchers use.
Get Participatory! A great way to ensure the relevance of the questions you ask is to involve those you want to study in the process of crafting questions themselves.
Informal and Conversational
In this approach, the interviewer comes in with few, if any, predetermined questions and lets the person being interviewed take the lead. This is a risky approach if you have a specific research question in mind, but can be useful if you are looking to explore an issue in broad strokes, or just get the perspective of particular people. For instance, in the Metamorphosis Project example, the researcher might begin by asking, “Can you talk about the role that your church plays with Latino immigrants in the community?”, and simply let the conversation flow from there. Each individual interview could be very different from the others.
In this approach, the interviewer comes in with a few basic themes or issues that they would like to discuss with the participant. This ensures that they will have some consistency from one interview to the next, but still leaves lots of room for exploration and gives the participant a good deal of freedom in the conversation.
Open-Ended Interview Guide
This approach is one of the most widely used, as it allows for a lot of comparison from one interview to the next. In this case, the researcher will come in with a pre-determined set of questions that they would like to be answered. The questions will be open-ended, meaning there is no one answer, and the response could take the form of an extended conversation on each topic.
Closed-Ended Interview Guide
This is the most restrictive approach for interviewing, and might be suitable for people who are new to interviews or uncomfortable carrying on a wide-ranging conversation. This type of interview is similar to a survey, with specific questions asked of each interview respondent, and a list of specific possible responses offered.
Here are a few potential closed-ended questions: