In the overview: the guided interview
The Guided Interview is an article, or more precisely, a survey technique used by experts to conduct qualitative empirical social research (for example, as part of a bachelor’s, master’s, or diploma thesis). Just as with various other means of the survey, the student asks his / her predecessor predetermined questions.
In comparison to the “classic information collection”, however, these can be answered much more openly. Thus, the procedure for the guided interview is less strict than that of various other methods. This article provides important information about the specific scientific method of interviewing. After a general introduction to the subject interview as well as a detailed definition of the guideline interview, useful hints for the implementation are presented.
What characterizes an interview?
An interview is generally a form of oral questioning. Characteristic are asymmetrically distributed roles, i. The interviewer asks questions and his / her counterpart communicates perspectives, points of view and experiences on the particular topic. Another typical feature, as already mentioned, is that in an interview – e.g. unlike a questionnaire, where the question and answer categories are given – only open questions are asked. In other words, the answers in the interview are released.
Examples of open questions:
- What makes a good lesson for you?
- How did you come to study as a teacher?
- Can you explain your school career?
- The interview per guide
- The term guided interview covers several types of qualitative interviews, namely those that use a guide. These include, for example, the expert interview, the problem-centered interview and the focused interview. The guideline is based on the higher-level research question (diploma thesis, etc.) and specific questions can also be asked, but in any case care must be taken to formulate open questions and not present any possible answers. In addition, the guide interview is characterized by a flexible order (= the researcher can direct the conversation content); the mode of communication is open narrative. Care should be taken to handle all aspects of the guide.
- Note: The guide fulfills the function of a kind of flexible checklist for the conversation. It serves to structure the interview and is helpful for the evaluation of the information. The latter is done by means of category system or similar.
- The five rules for research through a guide interview
- Openness of the questions
- The order is not prescribed (= flexibility of the researcher)
- The guide has to be kept in conversation (keyword completeness)
- The scope is max. 20 pages
- The language should be kept as suitable for everyday use as possible, including in expert interviews
- Note: Classic topics for a survey according to the above criteria are biographical backgrounds as well as topics from the industrial sector.
- The process of the guide interview
- Regardless of the topic (the future graduate’s work), the following steps are part of conducting a guided interview:
- Creation of the guideline
- Conducting the interview
- Analysis or evaluation of the collected data.
- Part 1: Preparation of the guideline
- The guide consists of an introduction to the topic, openly formulated questions and a supplement. The latter serves to write down important notes (place, time, persons interviewed, etc.). The guide leads through the conversation like a red thread, but not binding. The following aspects should be considered when formulating open questions.
- The questions should not contain any indication regarding the nature of the answer and certainly not possible answers.
- The questions are adapted to the language of the persons interviewed and are generally as simple and clear as possible (for example, by dispensing with superfluous technical terms).
- They aim at concrete situations well-known to the interviewee.
- These question types are taboo for the guide interview
- Enumeration and other closed questions that can be answered in a few words (for example, “How valuable do you think the remedial education is?”)
- Leading questions (“You also believe that …”)
- (Too) personal questions (“What do you do first thing in the morning after getting up?”)
- So-called ritualized everyday questions (“What do you think …?”)
- Justification questions (“Why did not you participate in the project?”)
- Tip: If reason questions for a topic are unavoidable, they must be in the form of a request for description. Example: “What are the reasons for the special education and which are against him?”.
- Step 2 and 3: Conduct and analyze the interview
- After the guideline has been created, the conversation and the evaluation of the collected information will follow. In order not to go beyond the scope of this article, only a few notes on these two steps are given below:
- The interviewees are to be selected and contacted depending on the topic and research interest (note special features!)
- The choice of interlocutors can be made top down (according to previously defined characteristics and criteria) as well as bottom up (during the research process, that is to say according to newly emerging aspects)
- The quality of the interviewees and thus also of the sample stands before their quantity, thus the extent
- For medium-sized research projects (for example, during studies), interview groups with 12 to 15 persons have proven sufficient
- More than 15 interviews lead to no new findings in such projects (keyword theoretical saturation)
- If less than 12 people are interviewed, attention must be paid to the greatest possible variation (= different, individual persons) in order to be able to observe
- The general purpose of the analysis is to understand the meaning of the material collected
- For the analysis there are different systems and programs (software).
In addition, the anonymity of the interlocutors must be secured, i. no information may be provided on the persons involved. To record the interviews, a memo device or similar should be used. used – the use of a mobile phone or smartphone is unprofessional.
Research the guide interview – concluding remarks
A guided interview requires a lot of effort and implementation requires some practice. Having become familiar with the process, however, is a very good method for conducting qualitative empirical social research. In order to make use of the questioning technique, one should, in addition to this article, use a work of specialist literature.