In-depth interviews involve direct engagement with individual participants. It is a qualitative data collection method where the interviewer can ask the participants different questions based on their responses. In-depth interviews require the interviewer to be highly skilled at such data collection methods to ensure that the participants feel comfortable in sharing information authentically, that there is no data lost in the process and the quality of information collected is in-depth and thorough.
Quick details: In-depth Interviews
Structure: Unstructured, Semi-structured
Preparation: Topics, Participant recruitment
Deliverables: Transcripts, Notes, Documentation
More about In-depth interviews
The interviewer is also required to be fairly empathetic to individual participants during the one-to-one engagement. Again, the choice of location is important in the level of comfort the participants may experience. For example, a participant may feel more at ease in their own home versus at a new unfamiliar space.
In-depth interviews prove to be highly helpful in situations where individual participants emotions, sentiments, opinions, values, etc. are an important part of the study or research being conducted. The duration of interview for individual participants may be different, the questions may vary depending on responses and therefore this method is fairly flexible in terms of its design. In-depth interviews may be conducted with a small groups as otherwise the interviews would be time-consuming.
Advantages of In-depth Interviews
1. Empathy & Connection
The researcher can give his/her undivided attention to the participants as well as connect with individual participants uniquely. This can allow the participants to feel comfortable during the interview while being authentic as well as open about the situation or issues being discussed.
2. Rich Data Collection
Many researchers use pre-existing lists of participants for methods such as focus and unfocus groups. However, in the case of in-depth interviews, because the sample size of participants is small, usually individuals are picked randomly to get a better and generalized picture of responses. Also, as the interviewer can adapt based on participant responses, the quality of responses are high level.
3. No peer pressure
As in-depth interviews are one-on-one, there is no worry about individuals getting peer-pressured into a response that they don’t entirely agree with.
4. Simple Logistics
As individual interviews are scheduled either at a fixed location, both at the individual’s home or the research facility, and with fewer individuals being interviewed, the logistics planning and scheduling is pretty straightforward.
5. Comprehensive findings
As the participants are interviewed with the same objectives in mind, the interviewer can probe them to as much depth as desired. Again, all responses are recorded unlike email/online surveys where some individuals may not respond and focus groups where a few participants may not contribute to the discussion.
6. Deeper Insights
As the interviews are not strictly time bound, in-depth interviews allow participants to share their feelings, opinions, and attitude in greater depth as well as at length. An observant researcher can interpret the participant’s mood from their body language as well as tone of voice.
7. Quicker realization of goals
With the right participants and an experienced researcher, the path to the goals of the study can be reached quickly.
Disadvantages of In-depth interviews
1. Time Consuming
In-depth interviews are quite time consuming, as interviews must be documented, analyzed and findings must be reported.
2. Experienced researcher
If the interviewer is not experienced then the entire research could get jeopardized. Again, this can sometimes drive the costs up by employing more number of researchers to one research.
3. Relatively Costly
The process can be relatively costly compared to other methods.
4. Participant recruitment
Participants must carefully chosen and this can lead to recruitment process which is time consuming. Sometimes, a background check of the participants is required to ensure authenticity but involves an additional time and cost factor.
Think Design's recommendation
Use In-depth interviews as a method when your research question needs deep probing and requires one-to-one interaction with participants. It is a qualitative research method and needs highly qualified researcher to ask relevant questions, moderate the interview and derive insights out of it.
Do not use in-depth interviews when you are seeking quantitative data or what you want is an evidence of responses. This method requires deep understanding of cultural and psychological context of the user and responses need interpretation.