Interview Methods in Research Psychology

Interviews are conducted for various purpose. Some interviews are performed to obtain information from highly significant people to learn about their life, opinions, and so on. This is appropriate for biographical writing. Other sorts of interviews are done to understand better a recent occurrence, such as a person's suicide or murder, for example. The aim is evident here. However, the technique of interviewing may differ significantly.

Another form of the interview involves asking specific questions to comprehend a person and his or her situation. An interview for a research study includes the researcher or his investigators talking one-on-one with a responder chosen by the researcher as one of the study's subjects. The interviewer asks the respondent questions on a certain topic, and the respondent's responses are either written down verbatim or recorded as an audio report.

What is an Interview?

An interview is a face-to-face verbal exchange between two people, one of whom is the researcher or interviewer, and the other is the responder or interviewee. The interviewer attempts to obtain the necessary information about the study issue from the respondent. It looks like a chat but focuses more on a certain goal. During a discussion, the roles of the participants shift. One initiates the discussion, while the other answers; later, the other may take the lead, and the first may be a listener. Thus roles may shift. In an interview, however, the roles of the interviewer and the interviewee do not change.

Types of Interview

Adams (1985) compared questionnaires and interviews to surgical instruments in medicine. He went on to say that these instruments are the most regularly utilized data-gathering methods in various social and behavioral sciences disciplines.

Structured Interview

The interviewer asks pre-written questions during the structured interview. In this situation, he/she cannot modify the questions or their order. There is no flexibility to add new questions or delete any questions. The interviewer asks the predetermined questions verbatim and records them. The interview is planned ahead of time and includes both open-ended and closed-ended questions. The interviewee may be provided the question schedule ahead of time so that he or she can prepare replies. There is a distinction to be made between interviewing and interview scheduling.

Unstructured Interview

Unstructured interviews occur when the interviewer exerts autonomy by asking questions about a specific research topic under examination. This form of the interview can be done one-on-one or in groups of interviewees. Unstructured interviews may allow the interviewee to respond freely or limit free replies. As a result, the interviewer only asks the respondents questions about the study topic. There are no pre-written questions. One inquiry naturally leads to another, and so on. The interviewer's primary goal is to obtain the respondents' perspectives on a specific issue. The interviewer should bring the interview guide/schedule with him/her to the interview.

Validity of Interview

In this context, research studies might be highlighted. Compared to material gathered through other ways, inconsistencies in respondents' accounts during interviews have been discovered. Similar inconsistencies have been seen in self-reports, particularly when questions involving sexual behavior are posed. Kanfer and Phillips (1970) concluded that when a person describes his experiences or internal states in an interview, care must be taken to recognize this behavior as a response that is under the control of both the person's history and the interview situation and not to accept it as a true record of past or internal events.

As Patterson (1968) points out, the interview is not a piece of measurement equipment that produces precise data. It is fallible and susceptible to significant sources of error and prejudice. However, we must recognize the interview as a method of gathering information. It is quite valuable and has its own set of perks. We should understand more about the causes of interview bias and its impact. We need to figure out how to get rid of them or account for them.) The validity of the interview is determined by how well the clinician is trained to obtain the information he seeks from the client.

Interviewing Skills

Interviewing abilities are categorized as generic vs. specialized (connected to a certain client group or field of practice); and core or foundation vs. unique to a given stage of the helping process or interview procedure. Some abilities are universal to all sorts of interviews, such as watching, relating, listening, and communicating. In contrast, others are crucial for unique situations or client groups, such as victims of abuse, socially disadvantaged groups, and physically or mentally challenged individuals. Some abilities are fundamental to effective interviewing, while others are more important to a specific phase of an interview or the helping process itself.

In reality, the same talents may appear on lists of general, fundamental, foundation, and specialized skills. The major distinction in unique abilities may be in the subtleties, timing, and emphases rather than the fundamentals. Acceptance, empathy, and communication skills (listening and speaking, for example) are necessary at the start of the worker-client interaction and throughout the interview or chain of interviews throughout the assisting process. They may demand different concentrations at various times and may be presented with a more complex combination in some circumstances than in others.

The emphasis here will be on general or fundamental interviewing techniques that may be used in any interview circumstance. The new professional will then be outfitted with the specialized skills required by his or her specific field of practice.


Interviewing is one approach to gathering information from primary sources. Each technique of data collection has advantages and disadvantages. The success of an interviewing strategy is determined by the target demographic and a trained/skilled and informed interviewer. This approach, like others, cannot produce 100% accurate results. This Unit delves into the many types of interviews, the interviewing process, the criteria to follow, and ultimately the main benefits and drawbacks of this approach. The construction of the research instrument is the most important component of the research, and this tool will create primary and high-quality data for the study.

Updated on: 05-Apr-2023

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