Depth interview

Historically, the term 'depth interview' has meant a relatively unstructured one-to-one interview. The interviewer is thoroughly trained in the skill of probing and eliciting detailed answers to each question. Sometimes psychologists are used in depth interviews. They use clinical non-directional techniques to uncover hidden motivations.


1 Group pressure is eliminated so that each respondent reveals more honest feelings.

2 The personal one-to-one situation gives the respondent the feeling of being the focus of attention, whose personal thoughts and feelings are important and genuinely wanted.

3 The respondent attains a heightened state of awareness in a personal interview because they are in constant rapport with the interviewer and there are no group members to hide behind.

4 The extra time devoted to individual respondents encourages the revelation of new information.

5 Respondents can be probed at length to reveal the feelings and motivations that underlie their statements.

6 Without the restrictions of cultivating a group process, new directions of questioning can be improvised more easily. Individual interviews allow greater flexibility in exploring casual remarks and tangential issues, which may provide critical insights into the main issue.

7 The closeness of the one-to-one relationship allows the interviewer to become more sensitive to non-verbal feedback.

The direction of the depth interview is guided by the interviewee's response. As the interview progresses, the interviewer thoroughly probes each answer and uses the replies as a basis for further questioning.

The success of any depth interview depends entirely on the interviewer. A second factor that determines the success of depth research is correct interpretation. The unstructured nature of the interview and the clinical nature of the analysis increases its complexity.

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