Conducting Successful Interviews: Tips for Intrepid Research
Effective Method: analyze interviews already conducted for their methods of strictly retrieving interviewees’ thoughts on one specific matter. (Dilley., 132)
Note: Susan Stamberg (NPR) has conducted over 20,000 interviews, meaning she has very effective interview tactics (Dilley., 132-133)
Six core questions : what, who, when, where, why, and how (Dilley., 133)
Start the interview with a closed-ended question — i.e. begin by assuring the interviewee of their ability to answer, which can also be done by asking a broader question (Dilley., 133)
After that, ask an interview question that could have more than one answer, to probe deeper and gain greater insight into the interviewee’s viewpoint (Dilley., 133)
Interviewers should talk for roughly 20% of the time in an interview (Dilley., 134)
Interviewers should also actively pay attention to the words and body language of interviewees, as they can provide both context and emotion in that order (Dilley., 134)
Objectivity is not the goal of an interview (Dilley., 35)
Sometimes, it can be helpful to respond to something that an interviewer has said previously, which can be done through pointing out contradictions in what an interviewer has said from question to question (Dilley., 135)
Conducting and Coding Elite Interviews
It is important to be “politely persistent” (Aberbach et al., 673). Be ready to repeat your pitch to the assistant or manager of the prospective interviewee (Aberback et al., 674).
Not all interviewees should be asked the same questions in the same order. The benefits of asking questions out of the pre-arranged order in favor of better conversational flow outweigh the benefits of having consistent ordering of questions between interviewees (Aberback et al., 674).
Avoid answering questions about your own hypotheses until the interview is already over (Aberback et al., 674).
The article by Dilley recommended that interviewers analyze interview questions from professional interviewees. Below is my attempt to do so. I listened to each one and attempted to gather qualitative data on how they were constructed.
Notes on: A GamesBeat interview with the CEO of NVIDIA
The interviewer leads with a complement in the first question
Only two questions were asked at one time, none of which were follow-ups to yes-or-no questions
All groups of two questions are accompanied by one to two sentences of explanation
The interview concluded with a closed-ended, yes or no question
Notes on: A CNBC interview with Dan McGahn, the CEO of American Superconductor Corporation
The first question was cut, but it was followed by a clarifying question about the extent of the Sinovel thievery
The third question was followed by an explanation of a normally simple question
In this interview and the last, yes or no questions are consistently elaborated upon
It seems that the vast majority of these questions were yes-or-no by nature, but were answered elaborately
Concludes with a “thank you,” which hasn’t been included in other reference interviews
Notes on: Interview with Susan Wojcicki
The first question was a “walk us through the process of making this decision,” which was not permitted to just freely ramble. The interviewer frequently interjects with clarifying questions
The interviewer asked about how she felt about the decision after she explained why she made the decision
Then asked about personal involvement within the company in the form of a yes-or-no question, which accompanied with clarification-requesting detail questions
When the interview went off-track from what the interviewer was aiming for, he politely attempted to redirect the conversation back to his desired topic
Some questions were very long, relative to others. This is sometimes up to 30 seconds in length, whereas others are about 10 seconds long. These questions seemed to be the pivotal, conversation-guiding (central) questions
Interviewer accepted when the interviewee adjusted his questions
The interviewer gives pointed questions that are based on observations of the interviewee that are not necessarily facts
Questions can include, “What would be helpful and what would be unhelpful,” “What is your favorite [of the listed options],” and “How do you feel about…”
Most questions include two to three sentences of preface before the question
Past 30 minutes, the floor is opened to questions and therefore the video loses its value to me
Patterns Between All of Them
If the interviewee has something that they want to say, generally let them say it. This can include preface information or even just something they want to talk about
During the interview:
- Accept when the interviewee makes slight modifications to your questions, but do not let them stray too far from what you want to know.
- If the interviewee has something they truly want to say, let them say it.
- Not all interviewees should be asked the same questions in the same order. If asking questions in a different order than they were originally written allows the conversation to flow better, then do it.
- Generally, ask one to two follow-up clarification questions based on the response of the interviewee
- The interview should start with a closed-ended question that the interviewee will likely be very comfortable answering.
- Questions should inform the interviewee of any concepts they may not be familiar with.
- When asking yes or no questions, always have a follow-up question to elaborate upon that response.
- Provide six central questions, which will be further explored by follow-up questions in the case of live interviews.
- Aim for questions to take up no more than 20% of the interview time. The interviewee should be talking much more than the interviewer.
- Conclude with a thank-you at the end of the interview
Original Research Methodology
This original research project is modeled after the 2015 study, “Preparing for Performance: Strategies Adopted Across Performance Domains,” in which experts in the performing arts, athletes, and surgeons were interviewed about their preparation routines (Cotterill, 159).
This original research project also includes elements of the 2005 study, “Qualitative Management Research: A Thematic Analysis of Interviews with Stakeholders in the Field.” The analysis tools used in this original research project will be taken from this study, along with some of the data collection methods (Cassel et al., 2005).
This original research aims to gain a better understanding of performance preparation routines, emotional regulation tools, emotion-based performance analysis, methods of preventing performance anxiety, and methods of mitigating the effects of overtraining in the fields of performance art, musical performance, esports, stock trading, and sports at the professional level.
After questioning the interviewees and obtaining data from each one of them, this data will be reviewed and results if the interviews will be compared using thematic analysis.
Once all of the interviews have been completed, they will be transcribed and re-read for analysis purposes. The researcher will produce a list of codes, also known as themes, from each set of textual data (Cassel, 2005).
Once these interview transcripts are coded into themes, these themes will be integrated into one master template, which will be used to compare each of the responses (Cassel, 2005). At this point, the template will be composed of vague themes. The researcher will then reanalyze the data present to form sub-categories of each theme (Cassel, 2005). During each analysis, it will be noted which themes correspond to each response.
These interviews will then be summarized and a formal document will be written, detailing the findings of this thematic analysis.
Interviewees will be contacted over email and interviewed over Zoom, phone call, or email and the researcher will remain “politely insistent” when contacting prospective interviewees (Aberback, 674).
Aberbach, Joel D., and Bert A. Rockman. “Conducting and Coding Elite Interviews.” Political Science & Politics, vol. 35, no. 04, 2002, pp. 673–676., doi:10.1017/s1049096502001142.
Cassel, Catherine, et al. “Qualitative Management Research: A Thematic Analysis of Interviews with Stakeholders in the Field.” Manchester Metropolitan University, 2005, pp. 1–85.
Cotterill, Stewart. “Preparing for Performance: Strategies Adopted Across Performance Domains.” The Sport Psychologist, vol. 29, no. 2, 2015, pp. 158–170., doi:10.1123/tsp.2014-0035.
Dilley, Patrick. “Conducting Successful Interviews: Tips for Intrepid Research.” Theory Into Practice, vol. 39, no. 3, 2000, pp. 131–137., doi:10.1207/s15430421tip3903_3.