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What is a depth interview?

A depth interview is a loosely structured interview. It allows freedom for both the interviewer and the interviewee to explore additional points and change direction, if necessary.

Explanation of depth interviews

A qualitative data collection method, depth interviews offer the opportunity to capture rich, descriptive data about people’s behaviours, attitudes and perceptions, and unfolding complex processes. They can be used as a standalone research method or as part of a multi method design, depending on the needs of the research.

How is a depth interview carried out?

Depth interviews are normally carried out face to face so that a rapport can be created with respondents. Body language is also used to add a high level of understanding to the answers. Telephones can also be used by a skilled researcher with little loss of data and at a tenth of the cost.

The style of the interview depends on the interviewer. Successful depth interviewers listen rather than talk. They have a clear line of questioning and use body language to build rapport. The interview is more of a guided conversation than a staccato question and answer session.

The interview is conducted using a discussion guide which facilitates the flushing out of the respondent’s views through open ended questioning. Projective techniques can be incorporated into the interview too.

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