How to conduct an interview

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The goal of the interview is to gain a better understanding of local peoples´ lives, their opinions on the current situation and their priorities for the future development of their region.

On the one hand, we won‘t go so far that we would try to obtain a representative picture of all local people through a sociological survey. On the other hand, you can´t deal with the local people without at least trying to find out what their priorities really are. So let‘s take this as an exercise in qualitative methodology for a semi-structured interview with (key) informants.

Prepare a short list of key topics and questions you want to explore in each interview. (To verify or reject positions described above; to find out priorities in regional development)

Try to construct the scenario (list of questions/topics) carefully. It is important to include all questions you are interested in or/and which are most pressing but at the same time those questions have to be broad enough not to influence respondents (before answering).

After you design a list of topics you are interested in, please put the questions/ topics into a specific order. At the beginning it is important for you to introduce yourself to respondents – the first contact is important for the smooth flow of the rest of the interview, ensuring that the respondent will be open. The order of themes is up to you. One more suggestion: touchy or sensitive topics should be left until the end – they could put respondents into a bad mood:)

Find your respondents. Include primarily people with knowledge about the region, its people, environment and issues, and influential leaders (key informants). Make sure that they are locals. Note background information: how long have they lived here, sex, approx. age, education level, occupation, etc.) It is very important in the interview not to push respondents to answer according to your expectations. Let them express themselves freely even if it does not fit your scenario. Most important in the research are the respondents themselves – they should talk more than you.

And it is self-evident that you have to say at the beginning WHO are you and WHY are you doing this research, please thank them at the end.

Finally, summarise the responses, try to find similarities and conflicts. Do the results correspond with the picture of local representatives described in this paper? What are the main priorities of local people for the future development of their region? What bothers them most?

Creative Commons Author: Marie Dlouhá, Martin Zahradník. This article was published under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. How to cite the article: Marie Dlouhá, Martin Zahradník. (20. 05. 2022). How to conduct an interview. VCSEWiki. Retrieved 13:52 20. 05. 2022) from: <>.