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- Types of Interviews in Research | Guide & Examples
Types of Interviews in Research | Guide & Examples
Published on March 10, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on June 22, 2023.
An interview is a qualitative research method that relies on asking questions in order to collect data . Interviews involve two or more people, one of whom is the interviewer asking the questions.
There are several types of interviews, often differentiated by their level of structure.
- Structured interviews have predetermined questions asked in a predetermined order.
- Unstructured interviews are more free-flowing.
- Semi-structured interviews fall in between.
Interviews are commonly used in market research, social science, and ethnographic research .
Table of contents
What is a structured interview, what is a semi-structured interview, what is an unstructured interview, what is a focus group, examples of interview questions, advantages and disadvantages of interviews, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about types of interviews.
Structured interviews have predetermined questions in a set order. They are often closed-ended, featuring dichotomous (yes/no) or multiple-choice questions. While open-ended structured interviews exist, they are much less common. The types of questions asked make structured interviews a predominantly quantitative tool.
Asking set questions in a set order can help you see patterns among responses, and it allows you to easily compare responses between participants while keeping other factors constant. This can mitigate research biases and lead to higher reliability and validity. However, structured interviews can be overly formal, as well as limited in scope and flexibility.
- You feel very comfortable with your topic. This will help you formulate your questions most effectively.
- You have limited time or resources. Structured interviews are a bit more straightforward to analyze because of their closed-ended nature, and can be a doable undertaking for an individual.
- Your research question depends on holding environmental conditions between participants constant.
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Semi-structured interviews are a blend of structured and unstructured interviews. While the interviewer has a general plan for what they want to ask, the questions do not have to follow a particular phrasing or order.
Semi-structured interviews are often open-ended, allowing for flexibility, but follow a predetermined thematic framework, giving a sense of order. For this reason, they are often considered “the best of both worlds.”
However, if the questions differ substantially between participants, it can be challenging to look for patterns, lessening the generalizability and validity of your results.
- You have prior interview experience. It’s easier than you think to accidentally ask a leading question when coming up with questions on the fly. Overall, spontaneous questions are much more difficult than they may seem.
- Your research question is exploratory in nature. The answers you receive can help guide your future research.
An unstructured interview is the most flexible type of interview. The questions and the order in which they are asked are not set. Instead, the interview can proceed more spontaneously, based on the participant’s previous answers.
Unstructured interviews are by definition open-ended. This flexibility can help you gather detailed information on your topic, while still allowing you to observe patterns between participants.
However, so much flexibility means that they can be very challenging to conduct properly. You must be very careful not to ask leading questions, as biased responses can lead to lower reliability or even invalidate your research.
- You have a solid background in your research topic and have conducted interviews before.
- Your research question is exploratory in nature, and you are seeking descriptive data that will deepen and contextualize your initial hypotheses.
- Your research necessitates forming a deeper connection with your participants, encouraging them to feel comfortable revealing their true opinions and emotions.
A focus group brings together a group of participants to answer questions on a topic of interest in a moderated setting. Focus groups are qualitative in nature and often study the group’s dynamic and body language in addition to their answers. Responses can guide future research on consumer products and services, human behavior, or controversial topics.
Focus groups can provide more nuanced and unfiltered feedback than individual interviews and are easier to organize than experiments or large surveys . However, their small size leads to low external validity and the temptation as a researcher to “cherry-pick” responses that fit your hypotheses.
- Your research focuses on the dynamics of group discussion or real-time responses to your topic.
- Your questions are complex and rooted in feelings, opinions, and perceptions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no.”
- Your topic is exploratory in nature, and you are seeking information that will help you uncover new questions or future research ideas.
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Depending on the type of interview you are conducting, your questions will differ in style, phrasing, and intention. Structured interview questions are set and precise, while the other types of interviews allow for more open-endedness and flexibility.
Here are some examples.
- Focus group
- Do you like dogs? Yes/No
- Do you associate dogs with feeling: happy; somewhat happy; neutral; somewhat unhappy; unhappy
- If yes, name one attribute of dogs that you like.
- If no, name one attribute of dogs that you don’t like.
- What feelings do dogs bring out in you?
- When you think more deeply about this, what experiences would you say your feelings are rooted in?
Interviews are a great research tool. They allow you to gather rich information and draw more detailed conclusions than other research methods, taking into consideration nonverbal cues, off-the-cuff reactions, and emotional responses.
However, they can also be time-consuming and deceptively challenging to conduct properly. Smaller sample sizes can cause their validity and reliability to suffer, and there is an inherent risk of interviewer effect arising from accidentally leading questions.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each type of interview that can help you decide if you’d like to utilize this research method.
If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Student’s t -distribution
- Normal distribution
- Null and Alternative Hypotheses
- Chi square tests
- Confidence interval
- Quartiles & Quantiles
- Cluster sampling
- Stratified sampling
- Data cleansing
- Reproducibility vs Replicability
- Peer review
- Prospective cohort study
- Implicit bias
- Cognitive bias
- Placebo effect
- Hawthorne effect
- Hindsight bias
- Affect heuristic
- Social desirability bias
The four most common types of interviews are:
- Structured interviews : The questions are predetermined in both topic and order.
- Semi-structured interviews : A few questions are predetermined, but other questions aren’t planned.
- Unstructured interviews : None of the questions are predetermined.
- Focus group interviews : The questions are presented to a group instead of one individual.
The interviewer effect is a type of bias that emerges when a characteristic of an interviewer (race, age, gender identity, etc.) influences the responses given by the interviewee.
There is a risk of an interviewer effect in all types of interviews , but it can be mitigated by writing really high-quality interview questions.
Social desirability bias is the tendency for interview participants to give responses that will be viewed favorably by the interviewer or other participants. It occurs in all types of interviews and surveys , but is most common in semi-structured interviews , unstructured interviews , and focus groups .
Social desirability bias can be mitigated by ensuring participants feel at ease and comfortable sharing their views. Make sure to pay attention to your own body language and any physical or verbal cues, such as nodding or widening your eyes.
This type of bias can also occur in observations if the participants know they’re being observed. They might alter their behavior accordingly.
A focus group is a research method that brings together a small group of people to answer questions in a moderated setting. The group is chosen due to predefined demographic traits, and the questions are designed to shed light on a topic of interest. It is one of 4 types of interviews .
Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.
Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.
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Five Tips for Conducting Effective Qualitative Interviews
An interviewer conducts household survey in rural El Salvador for a Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research study. Photo by Hy V. Huynh.
Published March 12, 2018 under Research News
In qualitative research, in-depth interviews can be an immensely helpful investigative tool. However, the nuances of one-on-one interviewing can sometimes make it difficult to obtain useful results. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell , associate research professor and founding director of the Evidence Lab at the Duke Global Health Institute, frequently integrates qualitative interviews into her research. In this article, she shares five interviewing tips that have served her well.
1. Convey Intent
Proeschold-Bell says it’s important for the interviewer to know the intent behind each question so that it can be clearly conveyed to the interviewee. Understanding the intent of a question, she’s found, helps interviewers decide whether or not the participant has fully answered the question. This way, they can ask follow-up questions and not leave gaps at the time of data collection. Proeschold-Bell recommends writing the intent of each question below it in italics on the interview script.
Proeschold-Bell also suggests a few more subtle techniques for helping interviewees understand what is really being asked and soliciting pertinent and thorough responses. Asking the question in several different ways can help clarify its meaning. Follow-up prompts such as “That’s really helpful; tell me more about that,” or “Can you describe what was unpleasant about it?” can also give interviewees helpful guidance in crafting their responses.
“You can also convey intent by explaining more broadly why you’re doing the research, so interviewees will be more likely to give you relevant information,” Proeschold-Bell said.
2. Don’t Sway the Participants
Acquiescence bias, which occurs when interviewees agree with what they think the interviewer wants to hear instead of giving their unbiased answer, can often prevent interviewees from sharing all relevant information. Research from Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research shows that when power dynamics are present in an interview, it may be especially difficult for an interviewee to give an honest answer.
To minimize acquiescence bias, interviewers can emphasize that the participant is the expert in the subject matter of the interview. For example, they can start the interview by saying, “I’ve asked you to talk with me today because you are an expert in what it’s like to be a patient in Eldoret.”
Interviewers should also avoid nodding or other body language that expresses agreement with the participant. Instead, interviewers should say, “That’s very helpful,” or “Thank you for those thoughts.” Otherwise, participants might elaborate on a point that isn’t actually very important to them just because the interviewer seemed to agree.
Proeschold-Bell also recommends that interviewers pay attention to—and record—interviewees’ non-verbal responses, which often communicate feelings and attitudes that the verbal response doesn’t capture.
3. Eliminate Interviewer Bias
Proeschold-Bell says it’s critically important to eliminate interviewer bias through the interview process. Knowing the interview guide extremely well helps an interviewer pace the interview to avoid running out of time, and adhering to the scripted wording for each question helps maintain unbiased prompting across all interviews. Additionally, if an interviewee starts answering a question that is going to be asked later, the interviewer can ask them to wait.
It’s best to ask interview questions in a specific order because covering certain questions first may influence how interviewees think during later questions. Finally, she recommends, “Ask all questions of all respondents, even if you think you know what they’ll say. They will surprise you sometimes!”
4. Consider a “Test Run” Period
Proeschold-Bell sees her first several interviews for a study as pilots. Learning from these first few test runs and improving questions and interview techniques for future interviews can have a significant impact on the quality of the study. This means that data quality from the first few interviews may not be as strong since some of the questions change, but the data from the interviews later on will be more useful. Proeschold-Bell recommends numbering interviews chronologically to link interviews to the phase of development in which they were conducted.
5. Make Time for Post-Interview Reflection
After an interview, Proeschold-Bell recommends immediately reviewing the data. “This helps capture good ideas that may otherwise be forgotten,” she says. In fact, she suggests creating a review form with a few open-ended questions that can help capture strong reactions and flag questions that didn’t work well or questions that should be added.
It’s also helpful, she says, to note responses that were different from those given in previous interviews. Doing this may generate ideas to analyze more carefully later on.
Looking for more research design tools? Check out Proeschold-Bell’s recent article, “ Five Tips for Designing an Effective Survey .”
Proeschold-Bell recommends that interviewers pay attention to—and record—interviewees’ non-verbal responses, which often communicate feelings and attitudes that the verbal response doesn’t capture.
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Research Methods Guide: Interview Research
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Tutorial Videos: Interview Method
Interview as a Method for Qualitative Research
Goals of Interview Research
- They help you explain, better understand, and explore research subjects' opinions, behavior, experiences, phenomenon, etc.
- Interview questions are usually open-ended questions so that in-depth information will be collected.
Mode of Data Collection
There are several types of interviews, including:
- Online (e.g. Skype, Googlehangout, etc)
FAQ: Conducting Interview Research
What are the important steps involved in interviews?
- Think about who you will interview
- Think about what kind of information you want to obtain from interviews
- Think about why you want to pursue in-depth information around your research topic
- Introduce yourself and explain the aim of the interview
- Devise your questions so interviewees can help answer your research question
- Have a sequence to your questions / topics by grouping them in themes
- Make sure you can easily move back and forth between questions / topics
- Make sure your questions are clear and easy to understand
- Do not ask leading questions
- Do you want to bring a second interviewer with you?
- Do you want to bring a notetaker?
- Do you want to record interviews? If so, do you have time to transcribe interview recordings?
- Where will you interview people? Where is the setting with the least distraction?
- How long will each interview take?
- Do you need to address terms of confidentiality?
Do I have to choose either a survey or interviewing method?
No. In fact, many researchers use a mixed method - interviews can be useful as follow-up to certain respondents to surveys, e.g., to further investigate their responses.
Is training an interviewer important?
Yes, since the interviewer can control the quality of the result, training the interviewer becomes crucial. If more than one interviewers are involved in your study, it is important to have every interviewer understand the interviewing procedure and rehearse the interviewing process before beginning the formal study.
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Qualitative research method-interviewing and observation
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Buckley and Chiang define research methodology as “a strategy or architectural design by which the researcher maps out an approach to problem-finding or problem-solving.”[ 1 ] According to Crotty, research methodology is a comprehensive strategy ‘that silhouettes our choice and use of specific methods relating them to the anticipated outcomes,[ 2 ] but the choice of research methodology is based upon the type and features of the research problem.[ 3 ] According to Johnson et al . mixed method research is “a class of research where the researcher mixes or combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques, methods, approaches, theories and or language into a single study.[ 4 ] In order to have diverse opinions and views, qualitative findings need to be supplemented with quantitative results.[ 5 ] Therefore, these research methodologies are considered to be complementary to each other rather than incompatible to each other.[ 6 ]
Qualitative research methodology is considered to be suitable when the researcher or the investigator either investigates new field of study or intends to ascertain and theorize prominent issues.[ 6 , 7 ] There are many qualitative methods which are developed to have an in depth and extensive understanding of the issues by means of their textual interpretation and the most common types are interviewing and observation.[ 7 ]
This is the most common format of data collection in qualitative research. According to Oakley, qualitative interview is a type of framework in which the practices and standards be not only recorded, but also achieved, challenged and as well as reinforced.[ 8 ] As no research interview lacks structure[ 9 ] most of the qualitative research interviews are either semi-structured, lightly structured or in-depth.[ 9 ] Unstructured interviews are generally suggested in conducting long-term field work and allow respondents to let them express in their own ways and pace, with minimal hold on respondents’ responses.[ 10 ]
Pioneers of ethnography developed the use of unstructured interviews with local key informants that is., by collecting the data through observation and record field notes as well as to involve themselves with study participants. To be precise, unstructured interview resembles a conversation more than an interview and is always thought to be a “controlled conversation,” which is skewed towards the interests of the interviewer.[ 11 ] Non-directive interviews, form of unstructured interviews are aimed to gather in-depth information and usually do not have pre-planned set of questions.[ 11 ] Another type of the unstructured interview is the focused interview in which the interviewer is well aware of the respondent and in times of deviating away from the main issue the interviewer generally refocuses the respondent towards key subject.[ 11 ] Another type of the unstructured interview is an informal, conversational interview, based on unplanned set of questions that are generated instantaneously during the interview.[ 11 ]
In contrast, semi-structured interviews are those in-depth interviews where the respondents have to answer preset open-ended questions and thus are widely employed by different healthcare professionals in their research. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews are utilized extensively as interviewing format possibly with an individual or sometimes even with a group.[ 6 ] These types of interviews are conducted once only, with an individual or with a group and generally cover the duration of 30 min to more than an hour.[ 12 ] Semi-structured interviews are based on semi-structured interview guide, which is a schematic presentation of questions or topics and need to be explored by the interviewer.[ 12 ] To achieve optimum use of interview time, interview guides serve the useful purpose of exploring many respondents more systematically and comprehensively as well as to keep the interview focused on the desired line of action.[ 12 ] The questions in the interview guide comprise of the core question and many associated questions related to the central question, which in turn, improve further through pilot testing of the interview guide.[ 7 ] In order to have the interview data captured more effectively, recording of the interviews is considered an appropriate choice but sometimes a matter of controversy among the researcher and the respondent. Hand written notes during the interview are relatively unreliable, and the researcher might miss some key points. The recording of the interview makes it easier for the researcher to focus on the interview content and the verbal prompts and thus enables the transcriptionist to generate “verbatim transcript” of the interview.
Similarly, in focus groups, invited groups of people are interviewed in a discussion setting in the presence of the session moderator and generally these discussions last for 90 min.[ 7 ] Like every research technique having its own merits and demerits, group discussions have some intrinsic worth of expressing the opinions openly by the participants. On the contrary in these types of discussion settings, limited issues can be focused, and this may lead to the generation of fewer initiatives and suggestions about research topic.
Observation is a type of qualitative research method which not only included participant's observation, but also covered ethnography and research work in the field. In the observational research design, multiple study sites are involved. Observational data can be integrated as auxiliary or confirmatory research.[ 11 ]
Research can be visualized and perceived as painstaking methodical efforts to examine, investigate as well as restructure the realities, theories and applications. Research methods reflect the approach to tackling the research problem. Depending upon the need, research method could be either an amalgam of both qualitative and quantitative or qualitative or quantitative independently. By adopting qualitative methodology, a prospective researcher is going to fine-tune the pre-conceived notions as well as extrapolate the thought process, analyzing and estimating the issues from an in-depth perspective. This could be carried out by one-to-one interviews or as issue-directed discussions. Observational methods are, sometimes, supplemental means for corroborating research findings.
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Conducting Research Interviews
The interviewer mindset, quick tips for preparing, developing questions.
- Conducting the Interview
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While the research interview is a one-on-one interaction, it's not a normal conversation. As the interviewer, it's expected that you:
- Are knowledgeable on the topic of the interview (this may require some background research)
- Are able to structure and guide the interview to keep it relevant but flexible
- Are able to remember and interpret the information gained in the interview
- Are sensitive to the interviewee's position and their rights
- Do preliminary research on the topic and the interviewee so that you enter the interview with an understanding of what will be discussed.
- Reflect on your goals. What should the interview accomplish? What is important to have recorded in the interview, and why is it important? How can you make the process easy for the interviewee?
- Create a list of topics and questions to explore during the interview. This should not be a strict checklist or a script; rather, it should function as a guide to ensure that you cover all of the content and that the interview stays focused.
- Create an open line of dialog with your interviewee before the interview so that you are comfortable with each other. This can involve going over the process, offering to answer any of their questions, verifying your time and place for the interview, etc.
- Choose and thoroughly familiarize yourself with your recording equipment to minimize any potential issues that may arise during the actual interview.
- Choose an interview space that is relaxed, comfortable, and quiet. You are having a conversation with your interviewee, not an interrogation.
- If you have never interviewed before, feel free to practice for the interview with friends, family, or peers. This will make sure you are prepared for the real thing.
Characteristics of good interview questions
- Open-ended and elicit a long response from the interviewee (can't be answered yes/no or with one word)
- Focus on the experience of the interviewee
- Don't lead the interviewee toward a particular response
- Address a single issue/point (i.e. don't ask multi-part questions)
Writing interview questions
Harvard's Department of Sociology provides some steps to help guide you in the process of writing interview questions (see the link to the guide below).
- Write down the larger research questions of the study. Outline the broad areas of knowledge that are relevant to answering these questions.
- Develop questions within each of these major areas, shaping them to fit particular kinds of respondents. The goal here is to tap into their experiences and expertise.
- Adjust the language of the interview according to the respondent (child, professional, etc.).
- Take care to word questions so that respondents are motivated to answer as completely and honestly as possible.
- Ask “how” questions rather than “why” questions to get stories of process rather than acceptable “accounts” of behavior. “How did you come to join this group . . .?”
- Develop probes that will elicit more detailed and elaborate responses to key questions. The more detail, the better!
- Begin the interview with a “warm-up” question—something that the respondent can answer easily and at some length (though not too long). It doesn’t have to pertain directly to what you are trying to find out (although it might), but this initial rapport-building will put you more at ease with one another and thus will make the rest of the interview flow more smoothly.
- Think about the logical flow of the interview. What topics should come first? What follows more or less “naturally”? This may take some adjustment after several interviews.
- Difficult or potentially embarrassing questions should be asked toward the end of the interview, when rapport has been established.
- The last question should provide some closure for the interview, and leave the respondent feeling empowered, listened to, or otherwise glad that they talked to you.
- Strategies for Qualitative Interviews This handy guide from Harvard's Department of Sociology provides guidance on getting into the interviewer mindset as well as developing and writing interview questions.
Depending on the nature of your assignment or research, you may or may not need to record and transcribe the interview. Review the pros and cons to determine whether recording and transcribing will be worthwhile for you.
- Helps you to recall more details of the interview
- Helps you to thoroughly examine the interview
- It allows other researchers to interpret and reuse the data in new ways
- May be off-putting to interviewees or make them feel pressured
- Transcribing is a time-consuming process; even using a transcription software requires a detailed review of the text
"Strategies for Qualitative Interviews" (n.d.) Harvard. See link above..
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Research Interviews: An effective and insightful way of data collection
Research interviews play a pivotal role in collecting data for various academic, scientific, and professional endeavors. They provide researchers with an opportunity to delve deep into the thoughts, experiences, and perspectives of an individual, thus enabling a comprehensive understanding of complex phenomena. It is important for researchers to design an effective and insightful method of data collection on a particular topic. A research interview is typically a two-person meeting conducted to collect information on a certain topic. It is a qualitative data collection method to gain primary information.
The three key features of a research interview are as follows:
Table of Contents
The Significance of Research Interviews in Gathering Primary Data
The role of research interviews in gathering first-hand information is invaluable. Additionally, they allow researchers to interact directly with participants, enabling them to collect unfiltered primary data.
1. Subjective Experience
Research interviews facilitate in-depth exploration of a research topic. Thus, by engaging in one-to-one conversation with participants, researchers can delve into the nuances and complexities of their experiences, perspectives, and opinions. This allows comprehensive understanding of the research subject that may not be possible through other methods. Also, research interviews offer the unique advantage of capturing subjective experiences through personal narratives. Moreover, participants can express their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, which add depth to the findings.
2. Personal Insights
Research interviews offer an opportunity for participants to share their views and opinions on the objective they are being interviewed for. Furthermore, participants can express their thoughts and experiences, providing rich qualitative data . Consequently, these personal narratives add a human element to the research, thus enhancing the understanding of the topic from the participants’ perspectives. Research interviews offer the opportunity to uncover unanticipated insights or emerging themes. Additionally, open-ended questions and active listening can help the researchers to identify new perspectives, ideas, or patterns that may not have been initially considered. As a result, these factors can lead to new avenues for exploration.
3. Clarification and Validation
Researchers can clarify participants’ responses and validate their understanding during an interview. This ensures accurate data collection and interpretation. Additionally, researchers can probe deeper into participants’ statements and seek clarification on any ambiguity in the information.
4. Contextual Information
Research interviews allow researchers to gather contextual information that offers a comprehensive understanding of the research topic. Additionally, participants can provide insights into the social, cultural, or environmental factors that shape their experiences, behaviors, and beliefs. This contextual information helps researchers place the data in a broader context and facilitates a more nuanced analysis.
5. Non-verbal Cues
In addition to verbal responses, research interviews allow researchers to observe non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Additionally, non-verbal cues can convey information, such as emotions, attitudes, or levels of comfort. Furthermore, integrating non-verbal cues with verbal responses provides a more holistic understanding of participants’ experiences and enriches the data collection process.
Research interviews offer several advantages, making them a reliable tool for collecting information. However, choosing the right type of research interview is essential for collecting useful data.
Types of Research Interviews
There are several types of research interviews that researchers can use based on their research goals , the nature of their study, and the data they aim to collect. Here are some common types of research interviews:
1. Structured Interviews
- Structured interviews are standardized and follow a fixed format.
- Therefore, these interviews have a pre-determined set of questions.
- All the participants are asked the same set of questions in the same order.
- Therefore, this type of interview facilitates standardization and allows easy comparison and quantitative analysis of responses.
- As a result, structured interviews are used in surveys or studies which aims for a high level of standardization and comparability.
2. Semi-structured Interviews
- Semi-structured interviews offer a flexible framework by combining pre-determined questions.
- So, this gives an opportunity for follow-up questions and open-ended discussions.
- Researchers have a list of core questions but can adapt the interview depending on the participant’s responses.
- Consequently, this allows for in-depth exploration while maintaining some level of consistency across interviews.
- As a result, semi-structured interviews are widely used in qualitative research, where content-rich data is desired.
3. Unstructured Interviews
- Unstructured interviews provide the greatest flexibility and freedom in the interview process.
- This type do not have a pre-determined set of questions.
- Thus, the conversation flows naturally based on the participant’s responses and the researcher’s interests.
- Moreover, this type of interview allows for open-ended exploration and encourages participants to share their experiences, thoughts, and perspectives freely.
- Unstructured interviews useful to explore new or complex research topics, with limited preconceived questions.
4. Group Interviews (Focus Groups)
- Group interviews involve multiple participants who engage in a facilitated discussion on a specific topic.
- This format allows the interaction and exchange of ideas among participants, generating a group dynamic.
- Therefore, group interviews are beneficial for capturing diverse perspectives, and generating collective insights.
- They are often used in market research, social sciences, or studies demanding shared experiences.
5. Narrative Interviews
- Narrative interviews focus on eliciting participants’ personal stories, views, experiences, and narratives. Researchers aim to look into the individual’s life journey.
- As a result, this type of interview allows participants to construct and share their own narratives, providing rich qualitative data.
- Qualitative research, oral history, or studies focusing on individual experiences and identities uses narrative interviews.
6. Ethnographic Interviews
- Ethnographic interviews are conducted within the context of ethnographic research, where researchers immerse themselves in a specific social or cultural setting.
- These interviews aim to understand participants’ experiences, beliefs, and practices within their cultural context, thereby understanding diversity in different ethnic groups.
- Furthermore, ethnographic interviews involve building rapport, observing the participants’ daily lives, and engaging in conversations that capture the nuances of the culture under study.
It must be noted that these interview types are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, researchers often employ a combination of approaches to gather the most comprehensive data for their research. The choice of interview type depends on the research objectives and the nature of the research topic.
Steps of Conducting a Research Interview
Research interviews offer several benefits, and thus careful planning and execution of the entire process are important to gather in-depth information from the participants. While conducting an interview, it is essential to know the necessary steps to follow for ensuring success. The steps to conduct a research interview are as follows:
- Identify the objectives and understand the goals
- Select an appropriate interview format
- Organize the necessary materials for the interview
- Understand the questions to be addressed
- Analyze the demographics of interviewees
- Select the interviewees
- Design the interview questions to gather sufficient information
- Schedule the interview
- Explain the purpose of the interview
- Analyze the interviewee based on his/her responses
Considerations for Research Interviews
Since the flexible nature of research interviews makes them an invaluable tool for data collection, researchers must consider certain factors to make the process effective. They should avoid bias and preconceived notion against the participants. Furthermore, researchers must comply with ethical considerations and respect the cultural differences between them and the participants. Also, they should ensure careful tailoring of the questions to avoid making them offensive or derogatory. The interviewers must respect the privacy of the participants and ensure the confidentiality of their details.
By ensuring due diligence of these considerations associated with research interviews, researchers can maximize the validity and reliability of the collected data, leading to robust and meaningful research outcomes.
Have you ever conducted a research interview? What was your experience? What factors did you consider when conducting a research interview? Share it with researchers worldwide by submitting your thought piece on Enago Academy’s Open Blogging Platform .
Frequently Asked Questions
• Identify the objectives of the interview • State and explain the purpose of the interview • Select an appropriate interview format • Organize the necessary materials for the Interview • Check the demographics of the participants • Select the Interviewees or the participants • Prepare the list of questions to gather maximum useful data from the participants • Schedule the Interview • Analyze the participant based on his/ her Responses
Interviews are important in research as it helps to gather elaborative first-hand information. It helps to draw conclusions from the non-verbal views and personal experiences. It reduces the ambiguity of data through detailed discussions.
The advantages of research interviews are: • It offers first-hand information • Offers detailed assessment which can result in elaborate conclusions • It is easy to conduct • Provides non-verbal cues The disadvantages of research interviews are: • There is a risk of personal bias • It can be time consuming • The outcomes might be unpredictable
The difference between structured and unstructured interview are: • Structured interviews have well-structured questions in a pre-determined order; while unstructured interviews are flexible and do not have a pre-planned set of questions. • Structured interview is more detailed; while unstructured interviews are exploratory in nature. • Structured interview is easier to replicate as compared to unstructured interview.
Focus groups is a group of multiple participants engaging in a facilitated discussion on a specific topic. This format allows for interaction and exchange of ideas among participants.
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Interviews can be defined as a qualitative research technique which involves “conducting intensive individual interviews with a small number of respondents to explore their perspectives on a particular idea, program or situation.” 
There are three different formats of interviews: structured, semi-structured and unstructured.
Structured interviews consist of a series of pre-determined questions that all interviewees answer in the same order. Data analysis usually tends to be more straightforward because researcher can compare and contrast different answers given to the same questions.
Unstructured interviews are usually the least reliable from research viewpoint, because no questions are prepared prior to the interview and data collection is conducted in an informal manner. Unstructured interviews can be associated with a high level of bias and comparison of answers given by different respondents tends to be difficult due to the differences in formulation of questions.
Semi-structured interviews contain the components of both, structured and unstructured interviews. In semi-structured interviews, interviewer prepares a set of same questions to be answered by all interviewees. At the same time, additional questions might be asked during interviews to clarify and/or further expand certain issues.
Advantages of interviews include possibilities of collecting detailed information about research questions. Moreover, in in this type of primary data collection researcher has direct control over the flow of process and she has a chance to clarify certain issues during the process if needed. Disadvantages, on the other hand, include longer time requirements and difficulties associated with arranging an appropriate time with perspective sample group members to conduct interviews.
When conducting interviews you should have an open mind and refrain from displaying disagreements in any forms when viewpoints expressed by interviewees contradict your own ideas. Moreover, timing and environment for interviews need to be scheduled effectively. Specifically, interviews need to be conducted in a relaxed environment, free of any forms of pressure for interviewees whatsoever.
Respected scholars warn that “in conducting an interview the interviewer should attempt to create a friendly, non-threatening atmosphere. Much as one does with a cover letter, the interviewer should give a brief, casual introduction to the study; stress the importance of the person’s participation; and assure anonymity, or at least confidentiality, when possible.” 
There is a risk of interviewee bias during the primary data collection process and this would seriously compromise the validity of the project findings. Some interviewer bias can be avoided by ensuring that the interviewer does not overreact to responses of the interviewee. Other steps that can be taken to help avoid or reduce interviewer bias include having the interviewer dress inconspicuously and appropriately for the environment and holding the interview in a private setting. 
My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistance offers practical assistance to complete a dissertation with minimum or no stress. The e-book covers all stages of writing a dissertation starting from the selection to the research area to submitting the completed version of the work within the deadline.John Dudovskiy
 Boyce, C. & Neale, P. (2006) “Conducting in-depth Interviews: A Guide for Designing and Conducting In-Depth Interviews”, Pathfinder International Tool Series
 Connaway, L.S.& Powell, R.P.(2010) “Basic Research Methods for Librarians” ABC-CLIO
 Connaway, L.S.& Powell, R.P.(2010) “Basic Research Methods for Librarians” ABC-CLIO
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Types of Interviews in Research and Methods
There are more types of interviews than most people think. An interview is generally a qualitative research technique that involves asking open-ended questions to converse with respondents and collect elicit data about a subject.
The interviewer, in most cases, is the subject matter expert who intends to understand respondent opinions in a well-planned and executed series of star questions and answers .
Interviews are similar to focus groups and surveys for garnering information from the target market but are entirely different in their operation – focus groups are restricted to a small group of 6-10 individuals, whereas surveys are quantitative.
Interviews are conducted with a sample from a population, and the key characteristic they exhibit is their conversational tone.
LEARN ABOUT: telephone survey
What is An Interview?
Fundamental types of interviews in research, other types of interviews.
- Methods of Research Interviews
What to Avoid in Different Types of Interviews
- Interview-Related Questions
An interview is a way to get information from a person by asking questions and hearing their answers.
An interview is a question-and-answer session where one person asks questions, and the other person answers those questions. It can be a one-on-one, two-way conversation, or there can be more than one interviewer and more than one participant.
The interview is the most important part of the whole selection bias process. It is used to decide if a person should be interviewed further, hired, or taken out of consideration. It is the main way to learn more about applicants and the basis for judging their job-related knowledge, research skills , and abilities.
A researcher has to conduct interviews with a group of participants at a juncture in the research where information can only be obtained by meeting and personally connecting with a section of their target audience. Interviews offer the researchers a platform to prompt their participants and obtain inputs in the desired detail. There are three fundamental types of interviews in research:
1. Structured Interviews:
Structured interviews are defined as research tools that could be more flexible in their operations are allows more or no scope of prompting the participants to obtain and analyze results. It is thus also known as a standardized interview and is significantly quantitative in its approach.
Questions in this interview are pre-decided according to the required detail of information. This can be used in a focus group interview and an in-person interview.
These interviews are excessively used in survey research with the intention of maintaining uniformity throughout all the interview sessions.
LEARN ABOUT: Research Process Steps
They can be closed-ended and open-ended – according to the type of target population. Closed-ended questions can be included to understand user preferences from a collection of answer options. In contrast, open-ended ones can be included to gain details about a particular section in the interview.
Example of a structured interview question:
Here’s an example of a structured question for a job interview for a customer service job:
- Can you talk about what it was like to work in customer service?
- How do you deal with an angry or upset customer?
- How do you ensure that the information you give customers is correct?
- Tell us about when you went out of your way to help a customer.
- How do you handle a lot of customers or tasks at once?
- Can you talk about how you’ve used software or tools for customer service?
- How do you set priorities and use your time well while giving good customer service?
- Can you tell us about when you had to get a customer to calm down?
- How do you deal with a customer who wants something that goes against your company’s rules?
- Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a hard customer or coworker.
Advantages of structured interviews:
- It focuses on the accuracy of different responses, due to which extremely organized data can be collected. Different respondents have different types of answers to the same structure of questions – answers obtained can be collectively analyzed.
- They can be used to get in touch with a large sample of the target population.
- The interview procedure is made easy due to the standardization offered by it.
- Replication across multiple samples becomes easy due to the same structure of the interview.
- As the scope of detail is already considered while designing the interview questions, better information can be obtained. The researcher can analyze the research problem comprehensively by asking accurate research questions .
- Since the structure of the interview is fixed, it often generates reliable results and is quick to execute.
- The relationship between the researcher and the respondent is not formal, due to which the researcher can clearly understand the margin of error in case the respondent either degree to be a part of the survey or is just not interested in providing the right information.
Disadvantages of structured interviews:
- The limited scope of assessment of obtained results.
- The accuracy of information overpowers the detail of information.
- Respondents are forced to select from the provided answer options.
- The researcher is expected to always adhere to the list of decided questions, irrespective of how interesting the conversation is turning out to be with the participants.
- A significant amount of time is required for a structured interview.
Learn more: Market Research
2. Semi-Structured Types of Interviews:
Semi-structured interviews offer a considerable amount of leeway to the researcher to probe the respondents, along with maintaining a basic interview structure. Even if it is a guided conversation between researchers and interviewees – appreciable flexibility is offered to the researchers. A researcher can be assured that multiple interview rounds will not be required in the presence of structure in this type of research interview.
Keeping the structure in mind, the researcher can follow any idea or take creative advantage of the entire interview. Additional respondent probing is always necessary to garner information for a research study. The best application of semi-structured interviews is when the researcher doesn’t have time to conduct research and requires detailed information about the topic.
Example of a semi-structured interview question:
Here’s an example of a semi-structured marketing job interviews question:
- Can you tell us about the marketing work you’ve done?
- What do you think are the most important parts of a marketing campaign that works?
- Tell me about a campaign you worked on that you’re very proud of.
- How do you do research on the market and look at data to help you make marketing decisions?
- Can you tell us about a time when you had to change your marketing plan because of something that didn’t go as planned?
- How do you figure out if a marketing campaign worked?
- Can you talk about how you’ve used social media to market?
- How do you ensure your marketing message gets through to the people you want to hear it?
- Can you tell us about a time when you had to run a marketing campaign on a small budget?
- How do you keep up with changes and trends in marketing?
Advantages of semi-structured interviews:
- Questions from semi-structured interview questions are prepared before the scheduled interview, giving the researcher time to prepare and analyze the questions.
- It is flexible to an extent while maintaining the research guidelines.
- Unlike a structured interview, researchers can express the interview questions in the preferred format.
- Reliable qualitative data can be collected via these interviews.
- The flexible structure of the interview.
Learn more: Quantitative Data
Disadvantages of semi-structured interviews:
- Participants may question the reliability factor of these interviews due to the flexibility offered.
- Comparing two different answers becomes difficult as the guideline for conducting interviews is not entirely followed. No two questions will have the exact same structure, and the result will be an inability to compare are infer results.
3. Unstructured Interviews:
Also called in-depth interviews , unstructured interviews are usually described as conversations held with a purpose in mind – to gather data about the research study. These interviews have the least number of questions as they lean more towards a normal conversation but with an underlying subject.
The main objective of most researchers using unstructured interviews is to build a bond with the respondents, due to which there is a high chance that the respondents will be 100% truthful with their answers. There are no guidelines for the researchers to follow. So they can approach the participants ethically to gain as much information as possible about their research topic.
Since there are no guidelines for these interviews, a researcher is expected to keep their approach in check so that the respondents do not sway away from the main research motive.
For a researcher to obtain the desired outcome, he/she must keep the following factors in mind:
- The intent of the interview.
- The interview should primarily take into consideration the participant’s interests and skills.
- All the conversations should be conducted within the permissible limits of research, and the researcher should try and stick by these limits.
- The researcher’s skills and knowledge should match the interview’s purpose.
- Researchers should understand the dos and don’ts of it.
Example of an unstructured interview question:
Here’s an example of a question asked in an unstructured interview:
- Can you tell me about when you had to deal with something hard and how you did it?
- What are some of the things you’re most proud of, and what did you learn from them?
- How do you deal with ambiguity or not knowing what to do at work?
- Can you describe how you lead and how you get your team going?
- Tell me about a time when you had to take a chance and how it turned out.
- What do you think are the most important qualities for success in this role?
- How do you deal with setbacks or failures, and what do you learn from them?
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem by thinking outside the box?
- What do you think makes you different from the other people who want this job?
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to make a hard choice and how you made that choice?
Advantages of Unstructured Interviews:
- Due to this type of interview’s informal nature, it becomes extremely easy for researchers to try and develop a friendly rapport with the participants. This leads to gaining insights in extreme detail without much conscious effort.
- The participants can clarify all their doubts about the questions, and the researcher can take each opportunity to explain his/her intention for better answers.
- There are no questions that the researcher has to abide by, and this usually increases the flexibility of the entire research process.
Disadvantages of Unstructured Interviews:
- Researchers take time to execute these interviews because there is no structure to the interview process.
- The absence of a standardized set of questions and guidelines indicates that its reliability of it is questionable.
- The ethics involved in these interviews are often considered borderline upsetting.
Learn more: Qualitative Market Research & Qualitative Data Collection
Besides the 3 basic interview types, we have already mentioned there are more. Here are some other interview types that are commonly used in a job interview:
During this type of interview, candidates are asked to give specific examples of how they have acted in the past. The idea behind this kind of interview is that what someone did in the past can be a sign of how they will act in the future. And by this interview, the company can also understand the interviewee’s behavior through body language.
During a panel interview, three or more interviewers usually ask questions and evaluate the candidate’s answers as a group. This is a good way to get a full picture of a candidate’s skills and suitability for the job.
Group Types of Interviews
Multiple people are interviewed at the same time in group interviews. This form of interview often focus groups that are utilized on entry-level positions or employment in customer service to examine how well candidates get along with others and function as a team.
During a case interview, candidates are given a business problem or scenario and asked to think about how to solve it. In the consulting and finance fields, this kind of interview is common.
A candidate’s technical skills and knowledge are tested during a technical interview, usually in fields like engineering or software development. Most of the time, candidates are asked to solve problems or complete technical tasks.
During a stress interview, candidates are put under pressure or asked difficult or confrontational questions on purpose to see how they react in stressful situations. This kind of interview is used to see how well a candidate can deal with stress and hard situations.
Methods of Research Interviews:
There are four methods to conduct research interviews, each of which is peculiar in its application and can be used according to the research study requirement.
Personal interviews are one of the most used types of interviews, where the questions are asked personally directly to the respondent as a form of an individual interview. One of the many in-person interviews is a lunch interview, which is frequently better suited for casual inquiries and discussions.
For this, a researcher can have a guide to online surveys to take note of the answers. A researcher can design his/her survey in such a way that they take notes of the comments or points of view that stands out from the interviewee. It can be a one-on-one interview as well.
- Higher response rate.
- When the interviewees and respondents are face-to-face, there is a way to adapt the questions if this is not understood.
- More complete answers can be obtained if there is doubt on both sides or a remarkable piece of information is detected.
- The researcher has an opportunity to detect and analyze the interviewee’s body language at the time of asking the questions and taking notes about it.
- They are time-consuming and extremely expensive.
- They can generate distrust on the part of the interviewee since they may be self-conscious and not answer truthfully.
- Contacting the interviewees can be a real headache, either scheduling an appointment in workplaces or going from house to house and not finding anyone.
- Therefore, many interviews are conducted in public places like shopping centers or parks. Even consumer studies take advantage of these sites to conduct interviews or surveys and give incentives, gifts, and coupons. In short, There are great opportunities for online research in shopping centers.
- Among the advantages of conducting such types of interviews is that the respondents will have more fresh information if the interview is conducted in the context and with the appropriate stimuli so that researchers can have data from their experience at the scene of the events immediately and first hand. The interviewer can use an online survey through a mobile device that will undoubtedly facilitate the entire process.
Telephonic Type of Interviews:
Phonic interviews are widely used and easily combined with online surveys to conduct research effectively.
- To find the interviewees, it is enough to have their phone numbers on hand.
- They are usually lower cost.
- The information is collected quickly.
- Having a personal contact can also clarify doubts or give more details of the questions.
- Many times researchers observe that people do not answer phone calls because it is an unknown number for the respondent or simply already changed their place of residence and they cannot locate it, which causes a bias in the interview.
- Researchers also face that they simply do not want to answer and resort to pretexts such as they are busy to answer, they are sick, they do not have the authority to answer the questions asked, they have no interest in answering, or they are afraid of putting their security at risk.
- One of the aspects that should be taken care of in these types of interviews is the kindness with which the interviewers address the respondents in order to get them to cooperate more easily with their answers. Good communication is vital for the generation of better answers.
Email or Web Page Types of Interviews:
Online research is growing more and more because consumers are migrating to a more virtual world, and it is best for each researcher to adapt to this change.
The increase in people with Internet access has made it popular that interviews via email or web page stand out among the types of interviews most used today. For this nothing better than an online survey.
More and more consumers are turning to online shopping, which is why they are a great niche to be able to carry out an interview that will generate information for the correct decision-making.
Advantages of email surveys:
- Speed in obtaining data
- The respondents respond according to their time, when they want, and where they decide.
- Online surveys can be mixed with other research methods or using some of the previous interview models. They are tools that can perfectly complement and pay for the project.
- A researcher can use a variety of questions and logic to create graphs and reports immediately.
Disadvantages of email survey:
- Low response rates
- Limited access to certain populations
- Potential for spam filters
- Lack of personal touch
Try not to do any of the following things when you’re in an interview:
- Don’t blame your previous managers, coworkers, or companies. This will make a bad impression on the interviewer and show that you are not accountable.
- Do not go to the interview without knowing anything about the company you are interviewing for. Interviewers will think you don’t care about learning about the company if you don’t know anything.
- Don’t fidget with things because that shows you lack self-confidence and focus.
- Stop checking the time because it shows that you have something more important to do and that you don’t give the interview much importance.
Related Questions of Interviews
After the interview is over, you might also get a chance to ask some questions. You should make the most of this chance to learn useful things from the interviewer. Based on what you’ve learned, you can then decide if the company and the job are a good fit for you. You can ask the interviewer questions about the company or about the job role.
Here are some common but important questions to ask in an interview:
- What do you anticipate from team members in this role?
- What does a typical day look like for an employee in this role?
- What qualities are essential for success in this position?
- How is success measured for this position?
- How does this job profile relate to the organization’s overarching objectives?
- What are your company’s guiding principles?
- Which departments will I work closely with throughout my time in this profile?
Learn more: Quantitative Research
To summarize the discussion, an effective interview will be one that provides researchers with the necessary data to know the object of study and that this information is applicable to the decisions researchers make.
Undoubtedly, the objective of the research will set the pattern of what types of interviews are best for data collection. Based on the research design , a researcher can plan and test the questions, for instance, if the questions are correct and if the survey flows in the best way.
LEARN ABOUT: Best Data Collection Tools
In addition, other types of research can be used under specific circumstances.
For example, there are no connections or adverse situations to carry out surveyors. In these types of occasions, it is necessary to conduct field research, which can not be considered an interview if not rather a completely different methodology.
QuestionPro is a flexible online survey platform that can help researchers do different kinds of interviews, like structured, semi-structured, unstructured, phone interview, group interview, etc. It gives researchers a flexible platform that can be changed to fit their needs and the needs of their research project.
QuestionPro can help researchers get detailed and useful information from participants using features like skip logic, piping, and live chat. Also, the platform is easy to use and get to, making it a useful tool for researchers to use in their work.
LEARN ABOUT: Candidate Experience Survey
Overall, QuestionPro can be helpful for researchers who want to do good interviews and collect good project data.
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The 3 main types of interviews are 1. Structured interviews 2. Semi-structured interviews 3. Unstructured interviews
There are different ways to conduct an interview, and each one can add depth and substance to the information the interviewer gathers by asking questions. We discuss four interview methods: situational, professional behavior profiling, stress, and behavioral.
Face-to-face means in-person interviews are the most common type of interview. It’s about getting a good sense of the candidate by focusing on them directly. But it also allows the person interviewed to talk freely and ask questions.
Personal interviews, phone interviews, email or web page interviews, and a combination of these methods are the four types of research interviews.
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20 Common Researcher Interview Questions and Answers
Common Researcher interview questions, how to answer them, and sample answers from a certified career coach.
You’ve been invited to interview for a research position—congratulations! You know you have the skills and experience, but now it’s time to prove it.
The key to success? Being prepared. To help make sure you shine in your upcoming interview, we’ve compiled some of the most common questions asked during research interviews. Read on, get familiar with them, and practice your answers so you can ace that job interview like a pro.
- What research methods do you use to collect data?
- How do you ensure the accuracy and validity of your research results?
- Describe a time when you had to analyze complex data sets and draw meaningful conclusions from them.
- Explain how you would go about designing an experiment or survey to answer a specific research question.
- Are you familiar with any statistical software programs? If so, which ones?
- What strategies do you use to stay organized while conducting research?
- How do you handle ethical considerations when conducting research?
- Have you ever encountered a situation where you had to adjust your research methodology due to unexpected circumstances?
- Describe a time when you had to present your research findings in a clear and concise manner.
- Do you have experience working with large datasets?
- What challenges have you faced when collecting primary data for a research project?
- How do you approach writing up a research paper or report?
- What techniques do you use to identify potential sources of bias in your research?
- How do you evaluate the quality of secondary sources used in your research?
- What strategies do you use to keep track of changes in the field of research you are studying?
- How do you decide which research questions to pursue?
- What is your experience with peer review processes?
- How do you manage competing demands on your time when conducting research?
- What strategies do you use to ensure that your research remains relevant and up-to-date?
- How do you ensure that your research meets the highest standards of academic integrity?
1. What research methods do you use to collect data?
Research methods are the core of any researcher’s job. You’ll need to be familiar with a variety of different methods, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and experiments, and be able to explain how you use each one in your work. This will help the interviewer understand your process and how you can contribute to their organization.
How to Answer:
You should be prepared to explain the research methods you have used in your past work. Talk about how you use surveys, interviews, focus groups, and experiments to collect data, as well as any other methods you may have experience with. If you’re just starting out, then talk through the steps you would take to select a method for each project. You can also mention any specialized methods or software that you are familiar with.
Example: “I use a variety of research methods to collect data, depending on the project. I often use surveys and interviews as primary sources of information, but I also have experience with focus groups, experiments, and software tools like Qualtrics for collecting quantitative data. I’m familiar with specialized methods such as content analysis and ethnography when appropriate. My goal is always to select the method that will provide the most accurate and reliable data for each project.”
2. How do you ensure the accuracy and validity of your research results?
Research requires a level of precision that goes beyond the normal workplace. Good researchers are able to identify what data is relevant and how to collect it in order to make reliable conclusions. Interviewers will want to know that you have the skills and knowledge to conduct research that is both accurate and valid. They’ll also want to know if you use any specific methods or tools to ensure accuracy and validity.
You should be prepared to explain what methods you use to ensure accuracy and validity of your research. This could include double-checking sources, using multiple data points, or triangulating information from different sources to verify results. You can also mention any specific tools or techniques you use, such as conducting surveys or interviews with experts in the field. Be sure to emphasize how important it is for you to make sure that your research is accurate and valid before drawing conclusions.
Example: “When I was working on a research project for ABC Corporation, I had to analyze the data from three different sources. My approach was to use statistical analysis techniques and software tools to cross-reference the data sets and identify any potential discrepancies or outliers. After analyzing the results, I identified a number of key trends that allowed us to draw meaningful conclusions about the company’s operations. The insights gained from this research ultimately led to improvements in the organization’s processes, resulting in increased efficiency and productivity.”
3. Describe a time when you had to analyze complex data sets and draw meaningful conclusions from them.
Research projects often involve a lot of data analysis and interpretation. Knowing how to take large amounts of data and make it into something meaningful is a valuable skill for any researcher. This question is a way for the interviewer to gauge your ability to work with data and draw meaningful conclusions from it.
You should be prepared to provide a specific example of when you had to analyze complex data sets and draw meaningful conclusions from them. Talk about the project, your approach to analyzing the data, and any insights or conclusions that you drew from it. Be sure to emphasize the impact of your findings on the project or organization as well.
Example: “I recently worked on a project for my previous employer in which I had to analyze a large and complex data set. My approach was to break down the data into smaller, more manageable chunks and then look for patterns or correlations between different variables. After doing this, I was able to identify a few key trends that were relevant to the project goals. This allowed us to make better decisions about how to allocate resources and focus our efforts, resulting in a successful outcome.”
4. Explain how you would go about designing an experiment or survey to answer a specific research question.
This question is designed to determine if you have the skills necessary to design and implement valid research experiments. The interviewer wants to know if you understand the fundamentals of research design, such as how to select a sample, how to develop a hypothesis, and how to determine the validity of a study. They also want to know if you can explain the process in a clear and concise manner.
Start by explaining the steps you would take to design an experiment or survey. You should include the following: defining the research question, selecting a sample, developing a hypothesis, creating a data collection plan, and determining how to analyze the results. Be sure to explain any specific techniques you might use in each step, such as random sampling or stratified sampling for your sample selection process. Finally, emphasize the importance of validating the results to ensure they are accurate and reliable.
Example: “When designing an experiment or survey, the first step is to define the research question. Once the research question has been identified, I would then select a sample that is representative of the population being studied. I would also develop a hypothesis based on my understanding of the research question and the available data. After that, I would create a data collection plan that outlines how the data will be collected, such as using surveys, interviews, or focus groups. Finally, I would determine the best method for analyzing the results in order to draw valid conclusions from the research. In all cases, it’s important to validate the results to ensure they are accurate and reliable.”
5. Are you familiar with any statistical software programs? If so, which ones?
Researchers often have to analyze data and present it in a meaningful way. This requires familiarity with statistical software programs like SPSS, SAS, or R. Knowing how to use these programs is a critical part of being a successful researcher, so this question is meant to gauge your level of expertise.
If you are familiar with any of the programs mentioned above, be sure to mention that and explain how you have used them in past research projects. If you are not familiar with these programs, it is still important to emphasize your ability to learn new software quickly. Explain how you approach learning new technologies and provide examples of times when you have successfully done so in the past.
Example: “I have used SPSS and SAS in my previous research projects. I am also comfortable with learning new statistical software programs, as I have done so on multiple occasions in the past. For example, when starting a new project at my last job, I was asked to learn R quickly in order to analyze data. Within two weeks, I had become proficient enough to use it for all of our research needs.”
6. What strategies do you use to stay organized while conducting research?
Research can be a long and complex process, with lots of data to sift through, organize, and analyze. It’s important to show the interviewer that you have a system in place to stay organized throughout the research process, from the initial research plan to the final report. This will demonstrate that you can effectively manage your time and resources, as well as prioritize tasks and remain focused on the task at hand.
You can answer this question by talking about the strategies you use to stay organized while conducting research. You could mention that you create detailed research plans, break down large tasks into smaller ones, and prioritize tasks based on importance and deadlines. Additionally, you could talk about how you utilize organizational tools such as spreadsheets and databases to store data, track progress, and easily access information when needed. Finally, you might also discuss how you take notes during your research process in order to keep track of important ideas or findings.
Example: “I use a variety of strategies to stay organized while conducting research. I always start by creating a detailed research plan that outlines the scope of my work and any deadlines associated with it. From there, I break down large tasks into smaller ones in order to tackle them more efficiently. Additionally, I prioritize tasks based on importance and deadlines in order to remain focused on the task at hand. To help store data, track progress, and access information quickly, I also utilize organizational tools such as spreadsheets and databases. Finally, I take notes during my research process in order to keep track of important ideas or findings.”
7. How do you handle ethical considerations when conducting research?
Research often involves collecting personal data, and it’s important that researchers understand how to approach these situations with respect and integrity. Interviewers want to know that you are aware of ethical considerations and that you are capable of adhering to them. This question is likely to be asked to all potential researchers, as it is an important part of the job.
Talk about the ethical considerations you take into account when conducting research. These can include obtaining informed consent from participants, ensuring confidentiality and anonymity of data, respecting privacy laws, protecting vulnerable populations, and considering potential biases that may arise in your research. You should also mention any processes or protocols you have implemented to ensure ethical compliance with research projects. Finally, emphasize how important it is for researchers to adhere to ethical standards and how seriously you take them.
Example: “I understand the importance of adhering to ethical standards when conducting research, and I take this responsibility very seriously. In my current position as a researcher at ABC University, I follow a strict protocol for obtaining informed consent from participants and ensuring that data is kept confidential and anonymous. I also make sure to consider any potential biases in our research before collecting data and am familiar with applicable privacy laws. Lastly, I always strive to protect vulnerable populations, such as children or those with disabilities, when conducting research.”
8. Have you ever encountered a situation where you had to adjust your research methodology due to unexpected circumstances?
Research is a dynamic process and researchers must be prepared to adjust their methods as needed. This question is designed to assess the flexibility of potential candidates and their ability to think on their feet. It also provides insight into how well a candidate understands the research process, including how to identify and address potential problems.
To answer this question, provide an example of a situation where you had to adjust your research methodology due to unexpected circumstances. Explain how you identified the problem and how you adjusted your methods in order to successfully complete the project. Be sure to emphasize any creative solutions you implemented and the positive outcome that resulted from your adjustment.
Example: “I recently encountered a situation where I had to adjust my research methodology due to unexpected circumstances. I was conducting a survey to analyze consumer behavior in relation to a new product launch. After collecting the first round of data, I noticed a discrepancy in the results that could not be explained. After further investigation, I realized that the sample size I was using was not large enough to accurately capture the data. I quickly adjusted my methodology by increasing the sample size and collecting more data, which ultimately allowed me to identify the discrepancy and provide an accurate analysis of consumer behavior.”
9. Describe a time when you had to present your research findings in a clear and concise manner.
Researchers often have to communicate their findings to colleagues, stakeholders, and the public. The ability to communicate complex research findings in an understandable way is a key skill for someone in this role. This question allows the interviewer to gauge your ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and concise manner.
You should come prepared with an example of a time when you had to present your research findings. Talk about the project, what the goal was, and how you went about presenting it. If possible, provide specific details such as the type of presentation (oral, written, etc.), who you presented to, and the feedback you received. You should also explain the strategies that you used to make sure that the audience understood your message. This could include using visual aids, breaking down complex concepts into simpler terms, or providing examples to illustrate your points.
Example: “My most recent research project focused on the long-term effects of climate change on agricultural production. I knew that it was important to make sure that the findings were presented in a way that was easy to understand and digest. I created a PowerPoint presentation that included visuals and graphs to illustrate my points, as well as a written report that provided a detailed breakdown of the findings. I then presented my findings to a group of stakeholders and received positive feedback. They appreciated my ability to take complex concepts and explain them in a way that was easy to understand.”
10. Do you have experience working with large datasets?
Many research roles require the ability to work with large datasets and analyze the information within them. This question helps employers understand how comfortable you are with such tasks, and it also serves as a way to gauge your technical skills. To answer this question, talk about how you’ve used various tools and techniques to analyze data and how you’ve been able to draw meaningful insights from it.
Start by talking about the types of datasets you’ve worked with, such as structured or unstructured data, and explain how you’ve gone about analyzing them. Then, provide a few examples of projects you’ve completed that involved working with large datasets. Finally, discuss any tools or techniques you’ve used to work with the data, such as statistical software, data visualization tools, machine learning algorithms, etc. Be sure to emphasize your ability to draw meaningful insights from the data and how those insights have helped inform decisions.
Example: “I have experience working with large datasets in both structured and unstructured formats. I have utilized various tools and techniques to analyze the data, such as statistical software and data visualization tools. I’ve also employed machine learning algorithms to uncover patterns and trends from the data. For example, in my most recent project I utilized a variety of data sources to identify potential new markets for our company. Through analyzing the data, I was able to identify key demographic, geographic, and psychographic trends that we could use to target our new customers. This analysis provided valuable insights that informed our marketing strategy and ultimately led to increased sales.”
11. What challenges have you faced when collecting primary data for a research project?
Research often involves gathering primary data from sources such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and observations. It’s important to determine whether the candidate has the skills necessary to design and implement a research project in order to successfully collect data. This question helps the interviewer understand the candidate’s ability to handle the logistics and challenges of primary data collection.
When answering this question, it’s important to provide specific examples of challenges you have faced and how you overcame them. For example, you could talk about the challenge of finding participants for a survey or focus group, or the difficulty in scheduling interviews with busy professionals. You can also discuss any logistical issues that arose during data collection, such as having unreliable equipment or dealing with uncooperative participants. Be sure to emphasize your problem-solving skills and ability to think on your feet when facing unexpected obstacles.
Example: “I’ve encountered a few challenges when gathering primary data for research projects. For example, when I was working on a survey project for a university, it took me several weeks to find participants willing to answer the survey. I had to be creative in my approach and reach out to different groups, such as student organizations, to recruit participants. I also encountered a few logistical issues, such as having unreliable equipment or dealing with uncooperative participants. I was able to quickly come up with solutions to these issues, such as having backup equipment and developing strategies to engage the participants. Overall, I was able to successfully gather the data I needed and produce valuable research findings.”
12. How do you approach writing up a research paper or report?
Research is a process that requires both creativity and structure. As a researcher, you must be able to synthesize information from a variety of sources, develop strong arguments, and communicate those arguments clearly and concisely in written form. Being able to articulate your approach to researching and writing up a paper will demonstrate your ability to think critically and logically.
Your answer should include the steps you take when writing up a research paper or report. This could include outlining your topic, researching relevant sources, organizing and synthesizing data, developing an argument, drafting and revising the paper, and proofreading for accuracy. It is also important to emphasize how you use critical thinking skills to develop strong arguments and draw meaningful conclusions from your research. Finally, make sure to mention any specific techniques or strategies that you have used successfully in the past.
Example: “When writing up a research paper or report, I approach the task systematically. I begin by outlining my topic and any relevant research questions. I then conduct research to find relevant sources, both primary and secondary. I carefully review and analyze the information I find, and use it to develop my argument. After that, I draft and revise the paper, making sure to include evidence to support my points. Finally, I proofread for accuracy and clarity. Throughout the process, I strive to use critical thinking skills to ensure that my arguments are sound and my conclusions are meaningful.”
13. What techniques do you use to identify potential sources of bias in your research?
Researchers need to be able to identify potential sources of bias in their work, such as selection bias or confirmation bias, in order to ensure the accuracy of their data and the validity of their results. By asking this question, the interviewer is gauging your ability to identify potential sources of bias and how you handle them.
To answer this question, you should discuss the techniques you use to identify potential sources of bias in your research. This could include methods such as double-checking data for accuracy and completeness, using multiple sources of information, or conducting blind studies. Additionally, you can talk about how you handle any biases you may find, such as adjusting your research design or changing your methodology. Be sure to emphasize that accuracy and validity are important to you and that you take steps to ensure they remain a priority.
Example: “I understand the importance of accuracy and validity in research, so I always strive to identify and address any potential sources of bias. I use several techniques to identify bias, such as double-checking my data for accuracy and completeness, using multiple sources of information, and conducting blind studies. When I do identify a potential source of bias, I adjust my research design or change my methodology to address it. I also make sure to communicate any changes to my team and stakeholders to ensure that we’re all on the same page.”
14. How do you evaluate the quality of secondary sources used in your research?
One of the most important skills of a researcher is being able to evaluate the quality of sources used in research. This question allows the interviewer to get a better understanding of your research process and your ability to critically evaluate sources. It also allows them to gauge your level of experience in the field and your knowledge of the research landscape.
To answer this question, you should explain your process for evaluating secondary sources. You can talk about the criteria that you use to evaluate a source’s credibility such as its author or publisher, the date of publication, and any peer reviews that have been conducted on the source. Additionally, you can mention any methods you use to assess the accuracy of information in the source such as cross-referencing with other sources or conducting additional research on the topic. Finally, you should discuss how you use these evaluations to inform your own research.
Example: “When evaluating the quality of secondary sources I use in my research, I consider a few key factors. I always look at the author or publisher of the source, the date of publication, and any peer reviews that have been conducted. I also use a variety of methods to assess the accuracy of the information in the source, such as cross-referencing with other sources and conducting additional research. From there, I use my evaluations to inform my own research and determine how best to use the source. This helps me ensure that I’m using the most reliable and up-to-date sources in my research.”
15. What strategies do you use to keep track of changes in the field of research you are studying?
Research is an ever-evolving field and keeping up with changes in the field is essential to remain relevant and up to date. Interviewers want to know that you have the skills and strategies to stay on top of the latest research, trends, and developments in the field. They’ll be looking for evidence that you have the self-discipline and organizational skills to stay on top of your work and be able to provide timely, accurate research.
You should be prepared to discuss the strategies and tools you use to stay up-to-date on changes in your field. Talk about how you keep track of new research articles, publications, conferences, and other sources of information that are relevant to your work. You can also talk about how you use technology such as RSS feeds, social media, or email alerts to ensure that you’re aware of any news or updates related to your research. Additionally, mention any methods you have for organizing and cataloging the information you collect so it is easily accessible when needed.
Example: “To stay on top of changes in my field, I use a variety of strategies and tools. I subscribe to relevant RSS feeds and email alerts to ensure I’m aware of any new research articles or publications. I also use social media to follow industry leaders and experts in the field and get updates on their work. I also keep an organized library of research material that I have collected over the years. I use a combination of software tools and physical filing systems to keep track of all the information I need. This allows me to quickly access any information I need, when I need it.”
16. How do you decide which research questions to pursue?
Being a researcher requires the ability to prioritize and select the best questions to pursue in order to achieve the desired outcome. This question helps the interviewer get a sense of your process and how you approach problem solving. It also gives them an insight into your critical thinking skills, as well as your ability to analyze data and make meaningful conclusions.
The best way to answer this question is to provide a step-by-step approach of how you decide which research questions to pursue. Start by explaining the research process you go through, such as collecting data, analyzing it and forming hypotheses. Then explain how you prioritize certain questions based on their importance and relevance to the project at hand. Finally, discuss how you use your findings to make informed decisions about which questions are worth pursuing further.
Example: “When I’m deciding which research questions to pursue, I start by gathering all the available data related to the project. From there, I analyze the data to form hypotheses and then prioritize the questions based on their importance and relevance to the project. I also consider the impact each question could have on the overall outcome of the research. Once I have a list of the most important questions, I evaluate the data and use my findings to make informed decisions about which questions are worth pursuing further. Ultimately, my goal is to select the best questions that will yield the most meaningful results.”
17. What is your experience with peer review processes?
Peer review is a critical part of the research process. It requires that researchers review and critique each other’s work in order to ensure that the research is unbiased and credible. This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your knowledge of the research process and your ability to work with other researchers.
To answer this question, you should provide specific examples of your experience with peer review processes. Talk about how you have worked with other researchers to review and critique their work, as well as how you have incorporated feedback from peers into your own research. You can also discuss any challenges or successes you had during the process. Finally, emphasize your understanding of the importance of peer review in the research process and why it is necessary for producing high-quality results.
Example: “I have extensive experience with peer review processes, both as a reviewer and as an author. I have worked with other researchers to review their work and provide constructive feedback, as well as incorporating feedback from peers into my own research. I understand the importance of peer review in the research process and am committed to producing high-quality results. I have also had success in resolving disagreements between reviewers and authors when needed, and I have a strong track record of producing quality research that has been accepted for publication.”
18. How do you manage competing demands on your time when conducting research?
Research can be a demanding job, with a lot of deadlines, competing agendas, and complex data sets to analyze. The interviewer wants to make sure you can prioritize tasks, keep track of multiple projects, and adjust when needed. Your ability to manage competing demands on your time is a key indicator of how successful you will be at the job.
To answer this question, you should focus on how you prioritize tasks and manage deadlines. Talk about the strategies you use to stay organized, such as setting up a calendar or using task management tools. Also discuss any techniques you have for staying focused when there are multiple demands on your time. Finally, emphasize your ability to adjust your plans when needed, such as if an unexpected project comes in or a deadline needs to be moved up.
Example: “I have a few strategies for managing competing demands on my time when conducting research. I prioritize tasks by breaking them down into smaller, manageable chunks and then assigning deadlines to each one. I also use task management tools to keep track of what I need to do and stay organized. And I make sure to take regular breaks to stay focused and energized. When I need to adjust my plans due to unexpected events, I’m able to reassess and re-prioritize my tasks accordingly. I’m confident in my ability to manage competing demands on my time and stay organized when conducting research.”
19. What strategies do you use to ensure that your research remains relevant and up-to-date?
Research is a dynamic field, and the best researchers know that they need to stay informed of the latest developments and trends in order to remain relevant. This question allows your interviewer to assess your knowledge of the field and your commitment to keeping up with the latest research. It shows that you are aware of the need to stay ahead of the curve and that you have the skills to do so.
To answer this question, you should start by discussing the strategies that you use to stay informed. You can talk about how you read industry publications, attend conferences and seminars, or network with other researchers in your field. You should also mention any specific platforms or tools that you use to keep up-to-date on the latest research. Finally, you should explain why staying informed is important to you and how it helps you do better work.
Example: “I use a variety of strategies to ensure that my research remains relevant and up-to-date. I read industry publications, attend conferences and seminars, and network with other researchers to stay informed. I also use specific tools like Google Scholar and ResearchGate to keep track of new developments in my field. It’s important to me to stay ahead of the curve and make sure that my research is as current and relevant as possible. Doing so not only helps me do better work, but it also helps me to provide more value to my employer and contribute to the success of their projects.”
20. How do you ensure that your research meets the highest standards of academic integrity?
Research is the backbone of any organization, and it is crucial for a researcher to maintain the highest standards of academic integrity. Employers want to know that you understand the importance of being thorough and accurate, as well as ethical in your research. They may also want to know how you go about verifying the accuracy of your data and sources, and how you ensure that your research meets the standards expected in the field.
Start off by detailing the steps you take to ensure that your research meets academic integrity standards. For example, you can mention how you always double-check sources and data for accuracy and reliability, or how you use peer review processes to vet your work. Additionally, be sure to emphasize any specific techniques or methods you have used in the past to verify the validity of your findings. Finally, explain why it is important to you to maintain the highest level of academic integrity in your research.
Example: “I understand the importance of academic integrity and take it very seriously in my research. To ensure the highest standards of accuracy, I always double-check my sources and data, and use peer review processes to vet my work. Additionally, I frequently use replication studies to verify the validity of my findings. To me, it is essential to ensure that my research meets the highest standards of academic integrity, as it is the foundation of any successful research project.”
20 Interview Questions Every Data Center Engineer Must Be Able To Answer
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How to carry out great interviews in qualitative research.
11 min read An interview is one of the most versatile methods used in qualitative research. Here’s what you need to know about conducting great qualitative interviews.
What is a qualitative research interview?
Qualitative research interviews are a mainstay among q ualitative research techniques, and have been in use for decades either as a primary data collection method or as an adjunct to a wider research process. A qualitative research interview is a one-to-one data collection session between a researcher and a participant. Interviews may be carried out face-to-face, over the phone or via video call using a service like Skype or Zoom.
There are three main types of qualitative research interview – structured, unstructured or semi-structured.
- Structured interviews Structured interviews are based around a schedule of predetermined questions and talking points that the researcher has developed. At their most rigid, structured interviews may have a precise wording and question order, meaning that they can be replicated across many different interviewers and participants with relatively consistent results.
- Unstructured interviews Unstructured interviews have no predetermined format, although that doesn’t mean they’re ad hoc or unplanned. An unstructured interview may outwardly resemble a normal conversation, but the interviewer will in fact be working carefully to make sure the right topics are addressed during the interaction while putting the participant at ease with a natural manner.
- Semi-structured interviews Semi-structured interviews are the most common type of qualitative research interview, combining the informality and rapport of an unstructured interview with the consistency and replicability of a structured interview. The researcher will come prepared with questions and topics, but will not need to stick to precise wording. This blended approach can work well for in-depth interviews.
Free eBook: The qualitative research design handbook
What are the pros and cons of interviews in qualitative research?
As a qualitative research method interviewing is hard to beat, with applications in social research, market research, and even basic and clinical pharmacy. But like any aspect of the research process, it’s not without its limitations. Before choosing qualitative interviewing as your research method, it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons.
Pros of qualitative interviews:
- provide in-depth information and context
- can be used effectively when their are low numbers of participants
- provide an opportunity to discuss and explain questions
- useful for complex topics
- rich in data – in the case of in-person or video interviews , the researcher can observe body language and facial expression as well as the answers to questions
Cons of qualitative interviews:
- can be time-consuming to carry out
- costly when compared to some other research methods
- because of time and cost constraints, they often limit you to a small number of participants
- difficult to standardize your data across different researchers and participants unless the interviews are very tightly structured
- As the Open University of Hong Kong notes, qualitative interviews may take an emotional toll on interviewers
Qualitative interview guides
Semi-structured interviews are based on a qualitative interview guide, which acts as a road map for the researcher. While conducting interviews, the researcher can use the interview guide to help them stay focused on their research questions and make sure they cover all the topics they intend to.
An interview guide may include a list of questions written out in full, or it may be a set of bullet points grouped around particular topics. It can prompt the interviewer to dig deeper and ask probing questions during the interview if appropriate.
Consider writing out the project’s research question at the top of your interview guide, ahead of the interview questions. This may help you steer the interview in the right direction if it threatens to head off on a tangent.
Avoid bias in qualitative research interviews
According to Duke University , bias can create significant problems in your qualitative interview.
- Acquiescence bias is common to many qualitative methods, including focus groups. It occurs when the participant feels obliged to say what they think the researcher wants to hear. This can be especially problematic when there is a perceived power imbalance between participant and interviewer. To counteract this, Duke University’s experts recommend emphasizing the participant’s expertise in the subject being discussed, and the value of their contributions.
- Interviewer bias is when the interviewer’s own feelings about the topic come to light through hand gestures, facial expressions or turns of phrase. Duke’s recommendation is to stick to scripted phrases where this is an issue, and to make sure researchers become very familiar with the interview guide or script before conducting interviews, so that they can hone their delivery.
What kinds of questions should you ask in a qualitative interview?
The interview questions you ask need to be carefully considered both before and during the data collection process. As well as considering the topics you’ll cover, you will need to think carefully about the way you ask questions.
Open-ended interview questions – which cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ – are recommended by many researchers as a way to pursue in depth information.
An example of an open-ended question is “What made you want to move to the East Coast?” This will prompt the participant to consider different factors and select at least one. Having thought about it carefully, they may give you more detailed information about their reasoning.
A closed-ended question , such as “Would you recommend your neighborhood to a friend?” can be answered without too much deliberation, and without giving much information about personal thoughts, opinions and feelings.
Follow-up questions can be used to delve deeper into the research topic and to get more detail from open-ended questions. Examples of follow-up questions include:
- What makes you say that?
- What do you mean by that?
- Can you tell me more about X?
- What did/does that mean to you?
As well as avoiding closed-ended questions, be wary of leading questions. As with other qualitative research techniques such as surveys or focus groups, these can introduce bias in your data. Leading questions presume a certain point of view shared by the interviewer and participant, and may even suggest a foregone conclusion.
An example of a leading question might be: “You moved to New York in 1990, didn’t you?” In answering the question, the participant is much more likely to agree than disagree. This may be down to acquiescence bias or a belief that the interviewer has checked the information and already knows the correct answer.
Other leading questions involve adjectival phrases or other wording that introduces negative or positive connotations about a particular topic. An example of this kind of leading question is: “Many employees dislike wearing masks to work. How do you feel about this?” It presumes a positive opinion and the participant may be swayed by it, or not want to contradict the interviewer.
Harvard University’s guidelines for qualitative interview research add that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask embarrassing questions – “if you don’t ask, they won’t tell.” Bear in mind though that too much probing around sensitive topics may cause the interview participant to withdraw. The Harvard guidelines recommend leaving sensitive questions til the later stages of the interview when a rapport has been established.
More tips for conducting qualitative interviews
Observing a participant’s body language can give you important data about their thoughts and feelings. It can also help you decide when to broach a topic, and whether to use a follow-up question or return to the subject later in the interview.
Be conscious that the participant may regard you as the expert, not themselves. In order to make sure they express their opinions openly, use active listening skills like verbal encouragement and paraphrasing and clarifying their meaning to show how much you value what they are saying.
Remember that part of the goal is to leave the interview participant feeling good about volunteering their time and their thought process to your research. Aim to make them feel empowered , respected and heard.
Unstructured interviews can demand a lot of a researcher, both cognitively and emotionally. Be sure to leave time in between in-depth interviews when scheduling your data collection to make sure you maintain the quality of your data, as well as your own well-being .
Recording and transcribing interviews
Historically, recording qualitative research interviews and then transcribing the conversation manually would have represented a significant part of the cost and time involved in research projects that collect qualitative data.
Fortunately, researchers now have access to digital recording tools, and even speech-to-text technology that can automatically transcribe interview data using AI and machine learning. This type of tool can also be used to capture qualitative data from qualitative research (focus groups,ect.) making this kind of social research or market research much less time consuming.
Qualitative interview data is unstructured, rich in content and difficult to analyze without the appropriate tools. Fortunately, machine learning and AI can once again make things faster and easier when you use qualitative methods like the research interview.
Text analysis tools and natural language processing software can ‘read’ your transcripts and voice data and identify patterns and trends across large volumes of text or speech. They can also perform khttps://www.qualtrics.com/experience-management/research/sentiment-analysis/
which assesses overall trends in opinion and provides an unbiased overall summary of how participants are feeling.
Another feature of text analysis tools is their ability to categorize information by topic, sorting it into groupings that help you organize your data according to the topic discussed.
All in all, interviews are a valuable technique for qualitative research in business, yielding rich and detailed unstructured data. Historically, they have only been limited by the human capacity to interpret and communicate results and conclusions, which demands considerable time and skill.
When you combine this data with AI tools that can interpret it quickly and automatically, it becomes easy to analyze and structure, dovetailing perfectly with your other business data. An additional benefit of natural language analysis tools is that they are free of subjective biases, and can replicate the same approach across as much data as you choose. By combining human research skills with machine analysis, qualitative research methods such as interviews are more valuable than ever to your business.
Market intelligence 10 min read, marketing insights 11 min read, ethnographic research 11 min read, qualitative vs quantitative research 13 min read, qualitative research questions 11 min read, qualitative research design 12 min read, primary vs secondary research 14 min read, request demo.
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From late arrivals to surprise phone calls, how to recover when your job interview is going off the rails
As professional recruiters, Teresa Freeman and Farah Sharghi have seen it all — job candidates who show up late and in disarray, under- (and over-) dressed, checking their phones during interviews, and overall not prepared to make a good first impression.
Any number of things can go wrong before you arrive for your interview. And it happens to the best of us — but that doesn't mean you have to let one derailment throw you off your entire game.
Here, Freeman and Sharghi share some common awkward situations that can disrupt a job interview, and how to recover from them with grace.
You're running late to your interview
The first thing to do is to alert your point of contact, whether that's the recruiter or the hiring manager, as soon as you know you're behind schedule, and let them know your new estimated time of arrival.
"The more you can control that narrative, the better," says Freeman, who has 25 years of experience as an HR executive for companies like Amazon, PwC, and Deloitte and is the author of "Soft Skills I Learned the Hard Way."
Give yourself a few extra minutes of buffer time if you can to collect yourself outside the building or lobby. You might be full of adrenaline and feeling out of sorts when you arrive, Freeman says, so "give yourself at least a minute or two to take a deep breath before you sit down so that you can be centered."
Once you arrive, apologize and own up to the fact that being late is an inconvenience. You can say something along the lines of: "I'm really sorry, there were extenuating circumstances that delayed my arrival. But I know your time is valuable, and it's really important that I convey how interested I am in this opportunity. And I really appreciate the time."
Be apologetic and genuine, but also succinct, Freeman adds: "Typically you only have 30 minutes to an hour, so you don't want to spend too much time harping on the fact that you're late. Own it, move forward and let that person know you really want to be there."
Your interviewer is running late
Even if you arrive before schedule, calm and collected, you may run into issues if your interviewer is running late. Ideally, you'll have let the recruiter arranging your interview know about your own schedule constraints, like if you have to be back at your job by a certain time, says Sharghi, who has worked as a recruiter for 7 years and conducted thousands of interviews at companies like Google, Lyft and TikTok.
If you're alerted that your interview will run behind schedule, it's appropriate to remind the recruiter about your own time constraints.
"It all boils down to communication and being transparent with the recruiter," Sharghi says. "Just say 'Hey, based on my schedule, I have to be back at work at this time. Can we reschedule the interview and make it work to accommodate for what I need?'"
Recruiters understand: "If you have a job and you're interviewing for jobs, there's only so many days that you can take off for quote-unquote vacation," she says. "They want to be respectful of that, too."
You need to use the bathroom mid-interview
Ideally, you'll ask the receptionist or your recruiter to use the restroom before you head into the interview room. The next best time to raise the issue is while you're walking through the office — ask the recruiter if you can pop in to use the restroom before you all sit down, Freeman says.
If you're interviewing with a few people, try to find a natural break in between people coming in and out of your conference room, she adds.
But if you've been in marathon interviews for a while, or you simply realize mid-thought of your need to go, Sharghi recommends timing it when you have control of the conversation: Make the ask as you're finishing answering a question and before the interviewer can ask another.
Your phone goes off
In 99% of cases, if your phone goes off mid-interview, don't answer it, Freeman says.
Act quickly and apologize, she adds: "You can say, 'I'm so sorry. I meant to put that on vibrate before I sat down. I understand your time is valuable. This is important for me as well. Let me turn that off.' And then just turn it off."
To that end, she says one of the most underrated moves that scores points with her is if you stow your phone out of sight completely.
You might still have your phone out from when you were navigating directions, or to pull up the name of someone you're interviewing with. But, "when you go in and you sit down for the interview, it's a nice move for the interviewer to see you actually put your phone away," Freeman says. "That's a visual cue that you as the candidate are completely present and focused."
The one exception is for true medical emergencies, Freeman adds. If that's the case, make that clear as you're sitting down. You can say something along the lines of, "I'm completely focused and present on this conversation. I'm interested to hear more about this opportunity. But my phone is close by because my dad is in the hospital" or "because my sister's about to have a baby."
"It would have to be a pretty significant reason," Freeman says.
The interviewer is giving you zero energy
Sometimes you may feel you're giving your most high-energy, best first impression, but you're getting little positive feedback from your interviewer, Freeman says.
That once happened to one of her coaching clients — a third-year college student. "He was prepped and ready to go, and then what he got back from that interviewer was really hard to read and he didn't feel connected."
In that scenario, Freeman says, understand that you never know what the interviewer is assessing, and that their flat response may or may not be intentional to see how you handle it. Don't assume you're bombing your interview.
At the end of the day, she says, "Be sure that you maintain your own energy level, you're still positive and you're thoughtful in your answers."
You call someone, or the company, the wrong name
"There's a lot of opportunity in an interview for your words to get jumbled or for you to say something that you didn't intend," Freeman says, especially if you're interviewing with multiple companies at once, let alone with several people within an organization.
"As soon as you recognize it, just own it," Freeman says. "I don't even know if you want to explain [the mix-up] quite frankly, just recognize that you've made the mistake and then move on. Don't linger on it. Don't worry about it."
For example, if you're interviewing with someone named Dave and accidentally call him Steve, "that's enough of a moment to be like, 'Oh my gosh, I know your name is Dave, I'm so sorry about that.'"
"But if it was just a turn of phrase, or you a messed up a cliche, I would just keep going," she says.
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- Open access
- Published: 06 December 2023
Explaining Iranian midwives’ experiences of providing healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study
- Sedigheh Moghasemi 1 ,
- Elham Adib Moghaddam 1 &
- Sahar Arab 1
BMC Health Services Research volume 23 , Article number: 1363 ( 2023 ) Cite this article
COVID-19 has changed and challenged the way health and maternity care is provided. Midwives are among the first and most influential maternity care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, there is inadequate information about their experiences in providing healthcare services, particularly in Iran. The present study was conducted to explain the midwives’ experiences of providing healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic in Gorgan.
The present study was conducted qualitatively through the inductive content analysis method in 2022. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews. A total of 21 individuals were selected as participants using a purposeful method and the maximum diversity strategy.
Data analysis led to the emergence of 377 codes, 12 subcategories, and 3 main categories, including, the laborious occupational challenges for midwives during the pandemic, identifying and creating new opportunities for the development of the midwifery profession, and the lack of perceived organizational and social support.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, midwives experienced various challenges in providing healthcare services, yet sacrificed themselves to perform their duties and provide quality care incessantly. The COVID-19 pandemic was a combination of laborious occupational challenges and individual and professional growth opportunities for midwives in Iran. Strong and managed organizational support is essential to overcome the crisis, maintain the workforce, and empower them to deal with future crises.
Peer Review reports
COVID-19 is an emerging and rapidly spreading disease [ 1 ], first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. On February 21, 2020, Iran was recognized as one of the 31 countries affected by this virus [ 2 ]. The disease was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020 [ 3 ]. COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of billions of people across the globe [ 4 ], fundamentally, rapidly, and unprecedentedly changed the way health and maternity care is delivered [ 5 ], and caused challenges for healthcare service delivery [ 6 ]. Despite limited information about its effect on reproductive and sexual health [ 7 ], preliminary data from the United Nations Population Fund indicates decreased healthcare services in many countries and increased challenges in providing maternity services. It also predicts an increase in maternal mortality following the COVID-19 pandemic [ 8 , 9 ]. In addition, this pandemic has led to a complete ban on importing and exporting numerous basic goods and a lack of essential health items in different countries [ 10 ]. According to the International Trade Center (ITC), 23 countries have banned exports of agri-food products. For instance, on March 31, 2020, Belarus imposed restrictions on all exports of buckwheat, onions, and garlic, while at the beginning of April, Cambodia and Myanmar prohibited the export of rice [ 11 ]. Therefore, these conditions have negatively impacted health services, particularly reproductive and sexual health [ 10 ].
During pandemics, healthcare systems work at their maximum capacity and are under higher pressure [ 12 ]. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, midwifery and reproductive health services are still among the essential services to be provided [ 13 ]. Midwives, as experts in women’s reproductive and sexual health [ 14 ], have been among the first and most effective providers of midwifery care, especially during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum during the COVID-19 pandemic [ 15 , 16 ]. They also play an essential role in meeting women’s needs and individual care [ 17 ]. Midwives’ profession is emotionally challenging [ 18 ], and they experience anxiety, pain, fear, grief, excitement, and delight under normal conditions [ 18 ]. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, midwives’ psychological challenges have become more prominent [ 19 ]. A recent study conducted in China on doctors showed a higher level of mental, emotional, and physical stress, particularly in regions with a higher prevalence of coronavirus [ 20 ]. Environmental factors and occupational stress also affect service providers’ health and the services provided by them [ 21 ].
The mental and physical fatigue experienced in the stressful conditions of the pandemic leads to midwives’ loss of motivation to provide services, disappointment, indifference, and even illness, by which service recipients will also be affected [ 22 ]. As a result, they might be afraid of providing services to poor pregnant women lacking masks due to the fear of themselves or their family members getting infected [ 7 ]. Inadequate economic situation, loss of a job or family members and friends, and disruption in the life routine and social media add to individuals’ emotional and psychological stress [ 23 ]. Since the process of providing care is influenced by workplace conditions and the culture in society [ 24 ], midwives’ experiences and perspectives can improve their care outcomes. Research supports that cultural values and norms influence healthcare experiences, specifically cultural embeddedness, cultural determinants of responsibilities or taxonomy of healthcare caregiving, and cultural values and norms underlying the decision to provide healthcare [ 25 ].
In addition, despite numerous evidence-based guidelines to guide midwives and other healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic [ 26 , 27 ], concerns about midwives’ practice and behavior have been raised [ 28 ], and major changes have been established in hospital-based maternity care [ 4 ], such as encouraging oxytocin use at higher doses to shorten the duration of labor, using amniotomies for dysfunctional or delayed labor, using prophylactic oxytocin during the third stage of labor to prevent hemorrhages, using early epidurals to minimize the need for general anesthesia (which risks aerosolization of the virus), limiting the second stage of labor, performing cesareans if labor had arrested after only 4 h, limiting antenatal corticosteroids after 34 weeks, judicious use of magnesium sulfate for slowing preterm labor because it can cause respiratory suppression, avoiding aggressive fluid hydration, and limiting the frequency of cervical exams [ 29 ]. During a crisis and pandemic, pregnant women’s health and fertility care are exposed to higher risk due to the lack of access to essential facilities and closer attention to those affected by the crisis [ 23 ]. Subsequently, maternal and infant mortality, which is an indicator of countries’ development, increases [ 30 ]. However, one of the main goals of sustainable development is improvements in maternal and child health care [ 31 ], which is in the scope of the midwives’ profession. Ombere likewise reports in his study that pregnant women do not refer to the hospital to receive care due to the fear of disease transmission and prefer to give birth at home, which increases the possibility of death [ 7 ].
Despite the fact that midwives are among the primary responders during the COVID-19 pandemic [ 1 ], there is limited information about their experiences in providing healthcare services during this period, particularly in Iran. Identifying the challenges, experiences, obstacles, and facilitators of providing services by midwives during the COVID-19 pandemic can serve as a practice guide in this and other crises or pandemics and help to design strategies for providing better and high-quality medical services in critical situations. Therefore, the present study was carried out to explain the experiences of midwives who provided healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic in Gorgan.
Since the research team had obtained different experiences about the provision of services during the COVID-19 pandemic from midwife colleagues working in different wards, and with the assumption of achieving a better experience of providing midwifery services in unexpected future pandemics in Iran by identifying the mentioned experiences and challenges, conducted the present study using the qualitative content analysis method with an inductive approach after the approval of the Ethics Committee of Golestan University of Medical Sciences. The qualitative content analysis method includes objective and systematic concepts to explain phenomena, and in the inductive approach, the processes used to extract themes from raw data and based on valid inference and interpretation are explained [ 32 ]. Since in this study, researchers sought meanings and a relationship between concepts, this method was used.
The participants included 21 Persian-speaking midwives working in public and private healthcare centers in Golestan province in Iran, who were selected through purposeful sampling based on the strategy of maximum diversity. For the interview, a semi-structured interview guide was developed in order to make all the experiences of midwives during the COVID-19 pandemic accessible.
The research team included three members: two assistant professors in Sexual and Reproductive health (ph.D.) and one instructor of Midwifery (MSc). The interviews were conducted by the second author (Faculty member, Female, Ph.D. in Sexual and Reproductive Health), who has a long history in midwifery and reproductive health education, health service delivery, and qualitative studies.
Setting and participants
A total of 22 interviews were conducted with 21 midwives working in the private sector (consulting center, maternity ward, and doula) and public sector (healthcare center, maternity ward, high-risk pregnancy ward, and infertility ward) across Gorgan, Iran, between January and October 2022. We chose purposive sampling to achieve representative variation with age, years of midwifery experience, highest level of education, and practice characteristics. Midwives were invited to participate by phone and were explained about the study objectives. The inclusion criteria included at least three years of work experience related to midwifery and reproductive health before the outbreak, at least one year of work during the COVID-19 pandemic and access to an online chat platform, including Google Meet or Skype, in case of conducting an online interview. It should be noted that due to the subsidence of a pandemic during the research period, all interviews were conducted in person.
We continued recruitment until saturation was reached [ 33 ]. After 20 interviews (1 interview was conducted in 2 stages due to the participant’s tiredness), we reached saturation on the level of categories and subcategories; however, we conducted two additional interviews for confirmation. Only one midwife declined to participate due to workload. To ensure full cooperation and understanding of the research aims by the participants, a consent form was administered by the second author (EAM) to each participant, and she provided information about the purpose of the study, confidentiality, and the right of the respondents not to take part in the study. Participants signed the forms after all information was provided to them. Moreover, participants’ physical and mental conditions and preparedness to participate in the interview were taken into consideration; if inappropriate, the interview was postponed to another day or was stopped and resumed another day.
Before the interview, participants filled out an informed consent form and a short questionnaire on their demographic characteristics. The interview was conducted by the second author (EAM) at the participant’s preferred location (midwifery practice or researcher workplace (university)). The interview started with the question, “Describe your experiences of providing midwifery services during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The interview continued based on the semi-structured interview guide. In order to deepen the interview and obtain richer data, probing questions such as “Explain more using an example?” were used based on the participants’ answers. During the interview, field notes describing the context of the interview, body language indicating the participant’s feelings, and the interview duration were recorded. Each interview lasted between 45 and 90 min.
Due to the fact that qualitative research requires the researcher to immerse herself/himself in the data [ 34 ], all interviews were recorded, listened to several times, and transcribed verbatim after obtaining permission from the participants by the third author (SA). Data analysis was performed manually using codes and simultaneously with data collection using the Graneheim and Lundman method [ 35 ]. A preliminary coding scheme was developed by the first (SM) and second author (EAM) based on the framework of the interview guide and the data of three randomly chosen interviews coded by the first and second authors independently. The final coding scheme emerged during further analysis based on consensus. Transcripts were coded by the second author (EAM), who presented her analysis to the research team. Codes were grouped into subcategories and categories by examining the commonalities, differences, and relationships within and among the interviews and through reflective discussion with the research team [ 36 ].
To ensure the data trustworthiness, four criteria of credibility, dependability, confirmability, and transferability were used [ 37 ]. In order to obtain credibility, six participants were requested to check a transcription of the data and codes and confirm its accuracy. Moreover, primary codes and samples of extracting categories, subcategories, and items from the interview transcriptions for each category were provided to the external observer (Ph.D. of Reproductive Health) to ensure dependability. In order to establish confirmability, the transcription of eleven interviews and extracted codes and categories were provided to the researcher’s colleagues and three reproductive Health and Midwifery specialists who were not involved in the study. They were requested to check the accuracy of the data coding process. To ensure transferability, we used verbatim transcripts and thick descriptions in data analysis. The writing of this article was guided by the consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ) [ 38 ].
Of the 22 midwives invited, 21 participated in the study. Participants’ background characteristics are presented in Table 1 . The analysis of interviews with participants with work history ranging from 5 to 29 years was associated with the extraction of 377 inferential codes. After merging repeated codes with the same concept, 12 subcategories, and 3 main categories were achieved (Table 2 ). Extracting categories from meaning units are presented in Table 3 .
Laborious occupational challenges for midwives during the pandemic
The midwives’ statements indicated the laborious challenges of providing healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This category resulted from subcategories of deprivation of social and family support, workplace unsafety, job restrictions of doulas, low rate of risk perceived by clients, increased workload without perks, care-treatment confusion in midwifery, and threats to mental health.
Deprivation of social and family support was one of the concerns caused by the pandemic. Participant No. 18 stated: “Many people were afraid of us working in the hospital. When I needed a call taxi service, if they knew I worked in the hospital, they declined my call. So I talked to the company manager once, and he said that the company wouldn’t provide services to hospital personnel. I justified it and asked him how he would know the other person they gave service wasn’t infected. Would they take a test to see if they weren’t a carrier or not infected? I got so upset, and I never asked them for a car again.”
The pandemic led to workplace safety in some centers and unsafety in others regarding coronavirus infection. Private centers were considered safer due to not admitting infected patients. On the other hand, selected public and related centers were considered unsafe due to the referral of infected individuals. In this regard, Participant No. 9 stated: “Our hospital was a center for COVID-19 patients. Our personnel were completely exposed to infection, especially at the beginning when we had a shortage of personal protective equipment. But the condition was much better in private centers. Because patients suspected of being infected in screening were also referred to us, they were normally less susceptible than us.”
The pandemic imposed a restriction on the work conditions of doulas, who were not allowed to enter hospitals during peak times. In addition, due to the nature of the coronavirus disease and its respiratory transmission, some interventions used by doulas, such as respiratory techniques, were highly limited. Participant No. 8 said: “You couldn’t educate things such as inhaling and exhaling. The mother was unwilling because of the coronavirus, and I, the midwife, was terrified. Well, there was fear of losing life; fear of death.”
Another challenge midwives experienced in providing services to clients was the low level of risk perceived by clients regarding infection. Participant No. 7 stated: “Making clients wear a mask and also coming inside without a companion was really a challenge; we kept explaining that it was first for their benefit, then for us. But people were strongly resistant. They said they wouldn’t get it or believed there was no virus; maybe it was because they couldn’t afford to buy masks, which were very expensive.”
The pandemic outbreak led to an increase in the workload of all health service providers, including midwives. Participant No. 17 stated: “Our center was selected for COVID-19. Different patients were referred there. We are midwives, but we also did the nurses’ tasks; for example, we did an IV insertion for a patient with typical symptoms of coronavirus disease and had to be admitted to the hospital. In addition, some days, we had to go to the vaccine centers as vaccinators, and we couldn’t deal with our own tasks, or in my absence, the workload at the center was taken by my colleague, who was alone that day.”
The unknown nature of the disease at the beginning of the outbreak, the announcement of multiple instructions, the lack of a uniform protocol, the lack of consensus between physicians regarding the final decision for the patient, diagnostic and therapeutic limitations during pregnancy and the fear of doctors and clients being infected, were among midwives’ care challenges. The unknown nature of the disease had caused a large number of patients to refer to private hospitals. For example, participant No. 3 stated: “The number of mothers referring to the private sector was very high because they believed that the public centers were contaminated. Those who believed they had these symptoms denied it and visited the private sector. So we fell between two stools; there was pressure on us”. Or regarding the lack of agreement between doctors about making the final decision for the patient, the same participant stated: “The doctors were talking equivocally; the gynecologists wanted their patients to be hospitalized and preferred them to have a cesarean section, but the infectious disease doctors believed it wasn’t expedient to hospitalize them there.”
The anxiety of infection and the fear of death among the medical staff, including midwives, was extremely high, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. In this regard, participant No. 18 stated: “Every day, when I went home, I felt like I was infected. I was always anxious. Because the patients and we believed that anyone who gets infected during the peak will die.”
Regarding the high mental pressure, participant No. 2 said: “Six out of ten of us got infected with coronavirus. Only 4 staff were left uninfected in the maternity ward. Well, there were at least 30 patients in each shift, 30 patients with one or two staff. All patients had a lot of tasks to be done for them. Well, it was a lot of mental pressure for us; we were anxious. The patients were also anxious, so we had to try not to transfer our anxiety to them; we also calmed them down.”
Some midwives stated they were obsessed with washing due to the fear of infection. In this regard, participant No. 4 stated: “I used to wash my and my husband’s clothes in the washing machine every day. Before COVID-19, when we reached home, we used to wash our hands and face, but after the coronavirus disease, every day we come home, we must take a shower. I’ve got obsessed.”
Identifying and creating new opportunities for the development of the midwifery profession
The pandemic outbreak led to the flourishing of professional opportunities, precision in practice, and higher empathy among midwifery staff. This category was derived from the subcategories: ‘creating a supportive atmosphere in the workplace,’ ‘new career opportunities for midwives in social media,’ and ‘self-motivation to provide quality midwifery care.’
Consolidation of teamwork, cooperation, empathy, and altruism among colleagues were the advantages of the pandemic. Participant No. 13 stated: “When one of the colleagues got infected, another tried to cover her place until that person fully recovered. If one of us were tired, we would do her tasks without any expectations, even though we were all tired.”
The pandemic outbreak, quarantine, and subsequent traffic restrictions helped midwives to optimally use their free time. Some midwives had an opportunity to share their training online at no charge. Some used this opportunity and offered consultations and visits online. In this regard, participant No. 6 said: “I started childbirth preparation classes on WhatsApp. Well, it was a very nice experience; it was very well-received; members added their friends from all over the country to my group, and I answered all their questions related to midwifery.” Participant No. 1 stated: “I used the opportunity to hold joint Instagram live sessions with doctors to educate people and answer their questions. For example, I used to read the content printed by a doctor because I believed that maybe everyone doesn’t have access to it. I went live on Instagram; questions and answers about COVID-19, for example, pregnancy, coronavirus disease, and Gynecological problems.”
The COVID-19 pandemic led to higher motivation in midwives to study and provide better quality services. They identified other disorders and diseases due to the need to screen patients for hospitalization in COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 wards. In addition, they observed the principle of appointment with the shortest waiting time for clients to avoid congestion in the service-providing centers. In this regard, Participant No. 2 said: “During the screening, we usually discovered other things. We interpreted the tests more carefully. Once we identified a patient with 2.9 creatinine. The patient wasn’t infected with COVID-19, but I might not have read hes test so carefully if it wasn’t during the pandemic.”
Lack of perceived organizational and social support
Lack of perceived social-organizational gratitude and lack of perceived social support were the two subcategories of this category. The need to receive appreciation and material support and the value their lives were the issues that the midwives mentioned frequently. Despite the increase in midwives’ workload and their industrious efforts, material and spiritual incentives were not considered for them by the healthcare system. In this regard, Participant No. 10 stated: “We worked tirelessly. I couldn’t see my son for a whole month because of my job and family circumstances. But it seems that our efforts and the pressure we endured weren’t noticed at all; officials didn’t even simply thank us or didn’t consider any measures for us, such as special leave or compensation for expenses.”
Taking into account special measures for active midwives during the pandemic and understanding the pandemic conditions by high-ranking officials were among the midwives’ professional needs. In this regard, participant No. 15 stated: “Our officials never perceived the condition. Whenever they came, instead of appreciating our effort, they just told us that we didn’t care well or why there were so many non-cooperation letters among pregnant women. Well, no matter how much we explained about disinfecting everywhere, pregnant women were afraid to come to the health center to control the baby’s heart rate. There were no other mothers when officials came, but they wouldn’t still be justified. Managers and supervisors never complimented us. They only condemned us for poor care or incomplete tasks. Our competencies and efforts were never noticed.” Expecting clients to understand critical conditions and their cooperation with the medical staff and compliance with health protocols was considered as social support for midwives and other healthcare workers. In this regard, Participant No.14 stated: “Some people came to the hospital without wearing masks. I used to say, “without exception, the mother who doesn’t have a mask should go out. We are working honestly, you must be honest with us, otherwise we will not accept you.”
This study aimed to explain the experiences of Iranian midwives in providing healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings showed that midwives’ experiences were noteworthy in three dimensions: laborious occupational challenges for midwives, identifying and creating new opportunities for the development of the midwifery profession, and lack of perceived organizational and social support.
The rapidly evolving pandemic situation, the need to change, and contradictions in patient management [ 39 ] are associated with midwives’ confusion and increased workload [ 40 ]. The necessity of congregating patients in selected hospitals in order to prevent the spread of the disease, the possibility of concealment of patients regarding the infection, the lack of personal protective equipment for the general public [ 41 ], and the low perceived risk of infection and death among clients, play an important role in the insecurity of the COVID-19 centers [ 40 ]. In addition, the unknown nature of the disease leads to midwives’ fear and anxiety [ 20 ], decreased efficiency, and double fatigue [ 1 ]. Medical staff’s anxiety and concerns decrease by increasing the level of their knowledge of the ways to deal with the pandemic [ 1 ].
The contagious nature of the coronavirus and the need to observe social distancing and prevent the presence of non-essential individuals in the patient’s bedside and wards led to restrictions on the employment of some midwives, including doulas. This finding is consistent with other studies. In Rivera’s study in the United States, the change in hospital care during the COVID-19 pandemic had a direct impact on the care of doulas [ 4 ]. In Stulz’s study, social distancing prevented quality midwifery care [ 40 ]. In fact, limiting the presence of doulas leads to mothers’ deprivation of the support services provided by them, which increases their fear and worries [ 42 ], increases the possibility of mood disorders after childbirth, decreases mental health [ 43 ], and increases elective cesarean delivery [ 44 ]. Since most delivery rooms are LDR (Labor, Delivery, Recovery), adopting strict policies can deprive mothers of some of their human rights and is contrary to scientific and ethical principles [ 45 ].
The community’s fear of contracting COVID-19 after contacting the medical staff led to the deprivation of midwives from some social services. Moreover, due to the nature of their job, midwives had minimized and sometimes eliminated their family contacts [ 40 ]; all of these isolating factors were a threat to the mental health of midwives and even their families. Fear, anxiety, and worry in the medical staff, including midwives, have been reported in other studies as well [ 40 , 43 ]. The fear of COVID-19 was stronger at the beginning of the crisis and resulted from the unknown nature of the disease, rapid changes, lack of personal protective equipment, and limited human resources [ 40 ]. The most common cause of fear was the transmission of the disease to family members [ 46 ]. Considering the necessity of maintaining midwives’ mental health during crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic [ 46 ], psychological interventions, including providing an opportunity for midwives to express their experiences and needs [ 47 ] and the chance of benefiting from face-to-face or online private consultations should be considered [ 48 ].
The pandemic has led to a supportive atmosphere in the workplace, creating new career opportunities in cyberspace and a high motivation for midwives to provide quality midwifery care. Strengthening the teamwork and coordination of the medical staff was reported in Hantooshzadeh’s study, which examined the experiences of health service providers regarding maternal and newborn care in Iran [ 39 ]. In line with the present study, Fumagalli reported the development of positive occupational aspects related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including individual and professional growth, improving communication skills, strengthening interpersonal trust, a sense of competence, and strengthening teamwork and a supportive atmosphere in midwives in Italy [ 49 ].
Since midwives were one of the most important providers of services to society, particularly mothers and infants, they made an effort to keep their information up-to-date by increasing reading and searching on the Internet so that they could answer clients’ questions. In Stulz’s study, studying more to answer women’s questions about the coronavirus showed the importance of this issue for midwives [ 40 ]. The development of such competencies during the pandemic has led to the individual and professional growth of midwives, and as a result, it can be effective in providing more quality services and dignified midwifery care [ 50 ].
Lack of organizational-social gratitude and perceived social support constituted the ‘organizational and social support perceived by midwives’ dimension. It is inevitable to take some measures in the healthcare systems to maintain and improve the health and productivity of human resources who are working in the front line of the fight against coronavirus worldwide [ 42 ]. Considering the job difficulty and the critical conditions, midwives worked together with other members of the medical staff and were on the front line of the fight. In addition to making a great deal of effort in maintaining and promoting the health of mothers and infants, they played a role in providing services for patients with COVID-19 in medical centers. However, it seemed that their efforts were not recognized or valued by the relevant organizations. They also needed recognition and expected the healthcare system to value their lives. They also expected that due to the high workload, material and spiritual benefits would be considered for them [ 39 , 42 ] since most of them or their loved ones became infected or were deprived of visiting their families and children due to working at the front line [ 40 ]. As a result, it is indispensable for government organizations, midwifery associations, and other stakeholders to provide adequate support to midwives for their welfare [ 51 ]. In fact, midwives, similar to other medical staff, expect to be “heard,” “protected,” “prepared,” “supported,” and “taken into account” [ 52 ].
Strengths and limitations of the study
Few studies have investigated the experiences of midwives working in different healthcare sectors, both private and public, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran; therefore, the findings of the present study have revealed important dimensions of the challenges of midwifery care and midwives in Iran. In the present study, interviews with midwives were conducted when the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disease had almost subsided, which may have led to the dimming of midwives’ memories of their experiences. However, an attempt was made to overcome this problem by conducting numerous interviews with key individuals and midwives working in different wards. Moreover, an effort was made to extract significant points by accompanying the interviewees and considering all the details and memories related to the research topic as important.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a combination of laborious occupational challenges and personal and professional growth opportunities for midwives in Iran. Strong and managed organizational support is necessary to overcome the crisis, maintain and sustain the midwifery staffing, and empower them to deal with future crises. Improving the provision of personal protective equipment, adopting strategies to improve mental health, properly managing staff in crisis, and considering special measures and various incentives in crises for medical staff, including midwives, are of particular importance. In addition, educating the general public in order to take protective measures and promote a culture of appreciation for midwives and medical staff can reduce the work and psychological burden caused by the crisis.
The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available to protect study participant privacy but are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
The International Trade Center
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The authors express their gratitude to Golestan University of Medical Sciences for their financial support and the participants’ valuable cooperation.
This research was funded by the Golestan University of Medical Sciences, Golestan, Iran (Grant No 853291).
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Counseling, and Reproductive Health Research Centre, Golestan University of Medical Sciences, Gorgan, Iran
Sedigheh Moghasemi, Elham Adib Moghaddam & Sahar Arab
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EAM, SM, and SA were involved in the study conception, design, and drafting of the manuscript. EAM wrote the first draft of this manuscript. SM and SA reviewed the first draft of the manuscript. EAM was responsible for coordinating the study. SM will be responsible for interviews with participants, descriptions, and data analysis. EAM will review and will be involved in data analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Correspondence to Elham Adib Moghaddam .
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Ethical approval for this study has been obtained by the ethics committee affiliated with Golestan University of Medical Sciences, Golestan, Iran (IR.GOUMS.REC.1400.340), and all the procedures were followed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki under the Ethics approval and consent to participate heading.
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Moghasemi, S., Adib Moghaddam, E. & Arab, S. Explaining Iranian midwives’ experiences of providing healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study. BMC Health Serv Res 23 , 1363 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-023-10265-5
Received : 27 April 2023
Accepted : 01 November 2023
Published : 06 December 2023
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-023-10265-5
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