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What are in-depth interviews and what are their benefits?

In-depth interviews are a qualitative research method used to obtain broad and substantial information on a certain topic. They seek to understand the interviewee's experience, opinions and perspectives, through the dialogue that results from asking questions of an exploratory nature.

With these interviews it is possible to collect a large amount of data and information about the behavior, perceptions and attitude of the interviewees. Throughout the process, participants have the possibility to change the course of the conversation, making it a dynamic methodology.

Next, we present the definition of this research methodology, its characteristics, the importance it has within market research and the basic guidelines for its correct application in different situations, as well as some of the advantages that this method offers for researchers.

They are defined as a dialogue between two people, in which the person in charge of the investigation formulates a set of questions related to the topic in question, while the interviewee verbally provides all the information that is requested. It is a research technique that allows obtaining data directly.

Taylor & Bogdan, authors of the text Introduction to qualitative research methods, define in-depth interviews as “repeated face-to-face encounters between the interviewer and the informants, aimed at understanding the perspectives that informants have regarding their lives, experiences or situations.”

The main intention of this technique is to immerse into another person's life, trying to decipher and understand their fears, satisfactions, interests, motivations and concerns regarding the subject matter. Within market studies, in-depth interviews guarantee obtaining information free of censorship.


Characteristics of in-depth interviews

There is a set of characteristics that define in-depth interviews:

  • They have a flexible structure. There is a basic guide to direct the conversation, covering the topics from which it is expected to obtain information from the interviewee.

  • Interactive methodology. All interviews include interactions with the interviewer, where the interviewer poses the main questions in a positive way, to allow the interviewee to feel comfortable and enthusiastic about answering them.

  • Different probing techniques are used. In in-depth interviews the interviewer can make use of different probing techniques and follow-up questions to gain a deep understanding of the participant's opinion.

  • They generate new knowledge. Through these interviews, new knowledge related to the subject matter and potential solutions to the problems that have been raised are generated.

  • Continued analysis. They offer the possibility for the interviewer to stop and delve into some details that appear throughout the conversation, unlike other more closed or time-limited techniques.

Importance of in-depth interviews within market research

Since they seek to imitate a conversation between equals, in-depth interviews allow the extraction of information from the interviewee in a relaxed atmosphere. If you want to get really relevant information, the interviewer must have enough skill to formulate the questions in a subtle way, without directing the interviewee or limiting their responses.

They are aimed at highlighting the expectations, experiences, feelings and perspectives of the interviewees on a specific topic, which may well be a product, service or problem. It basically focuses on obtaining data about a personal experience; being a qualitative technique, it favors the quality over the quantity of the information collected.

Guidelines for conducting in-depth interviews

Before starting the interview process, it is necessary to design a research plan in which the objectives, circumstances, motivations and limitations of the study are defined. From there, the research tools to be used can be selected, choosing those that are most convenient.If it is decided that in-depth interviews are the appropriate option, the following set of guidelines should be followed:

  • Prior to the interview, it is necessary to collect all the information about the interviewee and their context, taking into consideration the objectives of the study.

  • Make a script or list of topics that will be covered during the interview, so it is easier to add any additional questions without losing the thread of the conversation.

  • Select the participants, schedule the date of the interview based on the availability of interviewee and confirm their willingness to be part of the project.

  • During the interview, ask open-ended questions that allow room for analysis. With each answer, you will have to focus on understanding the whys and hows, as well as being open to discovering new topics. If you focus solely on validating the hypothesis, you will lose important information.

  • Record the entire conversation, so that it can be analyzed in detail or transcribed to extract notes.

  • Make notes on the body expressions of the interviewee, since gestures and non-verbal communication are also relevant during the process.

  • Before saying goodbye to the interviewee, ask about their doubts and validate any topic that was not clearly developed during the conversation.

  • Remember that the data collected is subjective in nature, so its analysis must be carried out from a critical point of view.

In-depth interviews have the advantage of requiring fewer participants to obtain relevant information. They also allow us to know the way of thinking of the interviewees, how they feel about the subject discussed and understand their needs, to even extrapolate them to the entire target market.

With them, brands, companies and organizations of all kinds have the possibility of making decisions based on clear information.

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