Get In-Depth With Interviews

When the methodology calls for in-depth interviews, most minds go straight to the classic picture of qualitative data collection. An interviewer having a lengthy and detailed conversation with an interviewee. For some projects, in-depth interviews are the main or only source of information we collect.

There is great explanation for the pervasiveness of the method: It is versatile across the variety of learning subjects, adaptable to difficult set circumstances, and superior for not just providing information but for generating understanding as well. Simply put, In-Depth Interviews work and they work well.

In-depth Interviews (also known as IDIs or one-on-ones) are used to reveal opinions, behaviors and motives of respondents when follow-ups and getting into the nitty-gritty of a topic is what is needed. Although IDIs are designed to concentrate on specific topics being explored, they remain fairly flexible. The interviewer can take conversation in the directions that respondents lead, which can uncover previously unknown areas of importance or to valuable themes that the researcher had not earlier considered.

But in the big-data-analytics-focused world we live in, some folks are wary of the IDI as a valid source of "data." In fact, it's been claimed that there are no good reasons to use IDIs if you do focus groups or broader, statistically significant surveys. Fear of in-depth interviews really boils down to the question of "how do you know that the findings are real and correct?”

It often comes down to understanding what we mean by "real and correct" in the realm of qualitative and quantitative research. The first key is to understand that one isn't ‘better’ than the other. Qualitative and quantitative research provide vastly different purposes and are useful in very different ways and at very different times in a research project.

The key with IDIs is humbly accepting that we don't know everything in our customers heads. When we can extract opinions, insight or observations directly from individuals, our research is strengthened by the viewpoints that are otherwise overlooked.

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