Designing Interview Questions

Some criteria to consider when designing the interview questions:

  • Why do you ask this question?
  • What is its theoretical relevance?
  • What is the link to your research question?
  • Why did you formulate the question in this way? Is it easy to understand? Is it clear?
  • Why did you order this question at this specific place in the interview? How does it fit into the rough and detailed structure of the interview?
  • How is the distribution of types of questions spread across the interview guide?

The order of questions also matters; interviewer should organize the interview questions based on complexities of the questions.

  • Remember! Do not ask the most difficult, complex question at the start of an interview.
  • It is always easier to start asking general question, like “Could you tell me what is your major of study?” You may save the sensitive or controversial (or even confrontational) questions for the middle of the interview.

It is more likely to obtain rich and in-depth data by asking open-ended questions, as freedom is given to interviewees to express and clarify their point of view. However, the data are usually complex so it  take more time to transcribe and analyse, and it relies heavily on interviewing skills of researcher, especially the ability to improvise and ask follow-up questions.



  • Use a few focal questions to cover the main aspects of the research question.
  • Ask a specific experience rather than a general topic, e.g. “Can you tell me how you voted in person in a recent general election”, rather than “What do you find it to be like when you go to vote?”
  • Ask interviewees their recent experiences instead of what they did ten years ago.Avoid academic terms and theoretical concepts in your interview questions (e.g. “What do you feel about your masculinity?”). Your interviewees are laypersons who could not understand those terms.