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Glossary » interview


gathering information about users by talking directly to them. An interview can typically gather more information than a questionnaire and go into a deeper level of detail. Interviews are good for getting subjective reactions, opinions, and insights into how people reason about issues. Interviews may happen in person or over the phone. Interviewers focus on finding an appropriate sample of interviewees, making the interviewee feel comfortable, and trying to avoid misleading questions or any behavior that might encourage a biased response.

“Structured interviews” are ones with a pre-defined set of questions and responses. They are sometimes better than questionnaires because thorough response is usually easier and because optional avenues of questioning can be explored which depend on answers to earlier questions. A structured approach can provide more reliable, quantifiable data than an open-ended interview, and can be designed rigorously to avoid biases in the line of questioning.

“Open-ended interviews” permit the respondent (interviewee) to provide additional information, ask broad questions without a fixed set of answers, and explore paths of questioning which may occur to the interviewer spontaneously during the interview. An open-ended approach allows for an exploratory approach to uncover unexpected information, used especially when the exact issues of interest haven’t been identified yet.

Structured and open-ended approaches may be combined. For instance, an interview can begin with structured questions, and once the quantifiable data is covered, open up discussion with the interviewee into other areas.