Difficulties & Strategies

  • Sometimes your interviewees/respondents do not have much to say. It is because an in-depth interview relies highly on the technique, experience and attitude of interviewer.
  • It is hard to ask follow-up questions because of the flexible structure of non-structured/semi-structured interview.

 What can we do?

  • Develop trust and empathy by having ice-breaking conversations at the start of the interview.
  • Show your humour and sincerity.
  • Listen patiently and do not dominate the conversation.
  • Clarify or rephrase your questions if needed.
  • Be mindful of interviewees’ tone of voice, body language and what might be unspoken.
  • Be conscious of your role as an interviewer. (people could respond differently towards interviewer who is male/female, older/younger, of different races etc.)
  • Do not share the hypotheses with your interviewees and do not use emotional and biased language.
  • Explain why you are interested in that and why it is valuable to know, if you are asking something private. If interviewees do not want to go further, do not persist! Move on to another topic.
  • Be mindful that interviewees can be allowed to speak “off the record,” but be clear about what this means to you and the interviewees.
  • Remember that a way to ask follow-up questions is self-disclosure, you can highlight the shared experience or goals with the interviewees, e.g. agreeing that the food quality on campus canteen is bad.
  • Encourage expansion / clarification of ideas that are relevant to the research questions, e.g. “What do you mean by…?” “Can you tell me more about …?”