Interview Method of Data Collection

3.4.2 Interview Method

Interviewing is one of the most common methods of collecting information from individuals. There are various types of interviews that are used to collect data. These include structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews.


Structured interviews: These are more or less like questionnaires since they consist of closed ended items. In this kind of interview, the respondents must choose from a limited number of answers that have been written in advance.


Semi-structured interviews: These are flexible kind of interviews in which the interviewer asks important questions in the same way each time but is free to alter the sequence of the questions and to probe for more information. Some items are structured while others are open. The respondents are free to answer the questions in any way they choose.


Unstructured interviews: These are wholly open ended instrument in which interviewers have a list of topics they want respondents to talk about but are free to phrase the questions as they wish. The respondents are free to answer in any way they choose.


Interviews can be conducted in a variety of ways; for example, by telephone or as a face-to-face interview using an interview schedule to guide your questions

What to keep in mind when Interviewing:
As a student of research or a practitioner, there are a number of points you need to observe when conducting an interview:

  • Provide time limit for interview,
  • Collect demographic information of the interviewee(s)
  • Ensure you word the questions clearly,
  • Gently probe your respondents for details about their feelings and opinions,
  • Accurately record your interviews by writing detailed notes or by tape-recording,
  • Where appropriate, obtain permission to tape-record the interview from the respondent,
  • Collect demographic information at the end of the interview.

In your study, ensure that you describe the reasons of using interview method to collect data. Explain also the structure (organization) of the interview guide adopted by your study.

Semi structured Interview guide will be used to collect data from the key informants (e.g. managers) because of the following reasons: i) the method offers high response quality, ii) it takes advantage of the facilitators’ presence and iii) combines questioning, cross-examination and probing approaches (Owens, 2002).

The interview guide is semi structured, with some open and close ended items. The items are grouped into various sections based on the research objectives. These sections include …. Probes are used in the guide in order to gather more information from the interviewees.


Owens, G. R. (1991). Organizational Behaviour in Education. Englewood Cliffs,  New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.