In carrying out a systematic investigation into specific subjects and contexts, researchers often make use of structured and semi-structured interviews. These are methods of data gathering that help you to collect first-hand information with regards to the research subject, using different methods and tools.
Structured and semi-structured interviews are appropriate for different contexts and observations. As a researcher, it is important for you to understand the right contexts for these types of interviews and how to go about collecting information using structured or semi-structured interviewing methods.
A structured interview is a type of quantitative interview that makes use of a standardized sequence of questioning in order to gather relevant information about a research subject. This type of research is mostly used in statistical investigations and follows a premeditated sequence.
In a structured interview, the researcher creates a set of interview questions in advance and these questions are asked in the same order so that responses can easily be placed in similar categories. A structured interview is also known as a patterned interview, planned interview or a standardized interview.
A semi-structured interview is a type of qualitative interview that has a set of premeditated questions yet, allows the interviewer to explore new developments in the cause of the interview. In some way, it represents the midpoint between structured and unstructured interviews.
In a semi-structured interview, the interviewer is at liberty to deviate from the set interview questions and sequence as long as he or she remains with the overall scope of the interview. In addition, a semi-structured interview makes use of an interview guide which is an informal grouping of topics and questions that the interviewer can ask in different ways.
An example of a semi-structured interview could go like this;
Each question is a prompt aimed at getting the respondent to give away more information
Structured interview examples can be classified into three, namely; the face-to-face interview, telephone interviews, and survey/questionnaires interviews
A face-to-face structured interview is a type of interview where the researcher and the interviewee exchange information physically. It is a method of data collection that requires the interviewer to collect information through direct communication with the respondent in line with the research context and already prepared questions.
Face-to-face structured interviews allow the interviewer to collect factual information regarding the experiences and preferences of the research respondent. It helps the researcher minimize survey dropout rates and improve the quality of data collected, which results in more objective research outcomes.
A tele-interview is a type of structured interview that is conducted through a video or audio call. In this type of interview, the researcher gathers relevant information by communicating with the respondent via a video call or telephone conversation.
Tele-interviews are usually conducted in accordance with the standardized interview sequence as is the norm with structured interviews. It makes use of close-ended questions in order to gather the most relevant information from the interviewee, and it is a method of quantitative observation.
A structured questionnaire is a common tool used in quantitative observation. It is made up of a set of standardized questions, usually close-ended arranged in a standardized interview sequence, and administered to a fixed data sample, in order to collect relevant information.
In other words, a questionnaire is a method of data gathering that involves gathering information from target groups via a set of premeditated questions. You can administer a questionnaire physically or you can create and administer it online using data-gathering platforms like Formplus.
An audio recorder is a data-gathering tool that is used to collect information during an interview by recording the conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee. This data collection tool is typically used during face-to-face interviews in order to accurately capture questions and responses.
The recorded information is then extracted and transcribed for data categorization and data analysis. There are different types of audio recording equipment including analog and digital audio recorders, however, digital audio recorders are the best tools for capturing interactions in structured interviews.
A digital camera is another common tool used for structured tele-interviews. It is a type of camera that captures interactions in digital memory, which are pictures.
In many cases, digital cameras are combined with other tools in a structured interview in order to accurately gather information about the research sample. It is an effective method of gathering visual information.
Just as its name implies, a camcorder is the hybridization of a camera and a recorder. It is a portable dual-purpose tool used in structured interviews to collect static and live-motion visual data for later playback and analysis.
A telephone is a communication device that is used to facilitate interaction between the researcher and interviewee; especially when both parties in different geographical spaces.
Formplus is a data-gathering platform that you can use to create and administer questionnaires for online surveys. In the form builder, you can add different fields to your form in order to collect a variety of information from respondents.
Apart from allowing you to add different form fields to your questionnaires and surveys, Formplus also enables you to create smart forms with conditional logic and form lookup features. It also allows you to personalize your survey using different customization options in the form builder.
An open-ended question is a type of question that does not limit the respondent to a set of answers. In other words, open-ended questions are free-form questions that give the interviewee the freedom to express his or her knowledge, experiences and thoughts.
Open-ended questions are typically used for qualitative observation where attention is paid to an in-depth description of the research subjects. These types of questions are designed to elicit full and detailed responses from the research subjects, unlike close-ended questions that require brief responses.
In interviews, open-ended questions are used to gain insight into the thoughts and experiences of the respondents. To do this, the interviewer generates a set of open-ended questions that can be asked in any sequence, and other open-ended questions may arise in follow up inquiries.
A close-ended question is a type of question that restricts the respondent to a range of probable responses as options. It is often used in quantitative research to gather statistical data from interviewees, and there are different types of close-ended questions including multiple choice and Likert scale questions.
A close-ended question is primarily defined by the need to have a set of predefined responses which the interviewee chooses from. These types of questions help the researcher to categorize data in terms of numerical value and to restrict interview responses to the most valid data.
1. Do you enjoy using our product?
2. Have you ever visited London?
3. Did you enjoy the relationship seminar?
4. On a scale of 1-5, rate our service delivery. (1-Poor; 5-Excellent).
5. How often do you visit home?
Close-ended questions are used in interviews for statistical inquiries. In many cases, interviews begin with a set of close-ended questions which lead to further inquiries depending on the type, that is, structured, unstructured or semi-structured interviews.
A multiple-choice question is a type of close-ended question that provides respondents with a list of possible answers. The interviewee is required to choose one or more options in response to the question; depending on the question-type and stipulated instructions.
Typically, a multiple-choice question is one of the most common types of questions used in a survey or questionnaire. It is also a valid means of quantitative inquiry because it pays attention to the numerical value of data categories. A multiple-choice question is made up of 3 parts which are the stem, the correct answer(s) and the distractors.
2. What types of shirts do you wear? (Choose as many that apply)
3. Which of the following gadgets do you use?
4. What is your highest level of education?
A dichotomous question is a type of close-ended question that can only have two possible answers. It is a method of quantitative observation and it is typically used for educational research and assessments, and other research processes that involve statistical evaluation.
It is important for researchers to limit the use of dichotomous questions to situations where there are only 2 possible answers. These types of questions are restricted to yes/no, true/false or agree/disagree options and they are used to gather information related to the experiences of the research subjects.
1. Do you enjoy using this product?
2. I have always used this product for my hair.
3. Are you lactose-intolerant?
4. Have you ever witnessed an explosion?
5. Have you ever visited our farm?
It’s important to provide a comfortable setting for your respondent. If you don’t, they’ll be subject to participant bias which can then skew the results of your interview.
You need to give your participants a heads up on why you’re conducting this. This is also the stage where you talk about any confidentiality clauses and get informed consent from your researchers. Explain how these answers will be used and who will have access to it.
Start by asking the basics to warm up your respondents. Then depending on your structured interview style, you can then choose tailored questions. E.g multiple-choice, dichotomous, open-ended, or close-ended questions. Ensure your questions are as neutral as possible and give room for your respondents to add any extra impressions or comments.
Check that your audio recorder is working fine and that your camera is properly placed before you kick off the interview. For phone interviews, confirm that you have enough call credits or that your internet connection is stable. If you’re using Formplus, you don’t have to bother about getting cut off thanks to the offline form feature. This means you can still record responses even when your respondents have poor or zero internet connection
Ensure that your notes are legible and clear enough for you to revert. Write down your observations. Were your respondents nervous or surprised at any particular question?
In the Formplus builder, you can easily create a questionnaire for your structured interview by dragging and dropping preferred fields into your form. To access the Formplus builder, you will need to create an account on Formplus.
Once you do this, sign in to your account and click on "Create Form " to begin.
Click on the field provided to input your form title, for example, "Structured Interview Questionnaire".
Formplus allows you to add unique features to your structured questionnaire. You can personalize your questionnaire using various customization options in the builder. Here, you can add background images, your organization's logo, and other features. You can also change the display theme of your form.
Formplus allows you to share your questionnaire with interviewees using multiple form-sharing options. You can use the direct social media sharing buttons to share your form link to your organization's social media pages.
You can also embed your questionnaire into your website so that form respondents can easily fill it out when they visit your webpage. Formplus enables you to send out email invitations to interviewees and to also share your questionnaire as a QR code.
It is important for every researcher to understand how to conduct structured and unstructured interviews. While a structured interview strictly follows an interview sequence comprising standardized questions, a semi-structured interview allows the researcher to digress from the sequence of inquiry, based on the information provided by the respondent.
You can conduct a structured interview using an audio recorder, telephone or surveys. Formplus allows you to create and administer online surveys easily, and you can add different form fields to allow you to collect a variety of information using the form builder.
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