Interview research

The basic assumption of all interviewing techniques is that to obtain information about people, you simply ask them for it. This could be information about what type of people they are, how they behave (usually in terms of purchase behaviour) or what their likes, dislikes, attitudes and opinions about the subject under study may be. Very often, this basic assumption is a realistic one, which explains why interviewing is the most commonly used technique of social research, i.e. any research concerned with people. The advantage of interviewing techniques is that it is often possible to discover not only what people are, do or think, but also why this may be so. This makes it a very rich data source in terms of the quantity and quality of data generated.

There are, however, occasions when the basic assumption is unjustified, and people either will not or cannot give, or will falsify, the information required. Some categories of information cannot be gathered by the interview method and other approaches are needed.

There may be occasions when people cannot say what they do, often because the information, which is so important to a decision maker, is of such trivial interest to the individual that it simply is not recalled. A manufacturer may wish to know exactly how many packets of biscuits, and what type, each household buys in a month, and whether this changes over the year. Only the individual whose biscuit-buying behaviour is unusually regular and stable would be able to answer such a question accurately. For those households where biscuits are bought as required, and where several different types may be bought in the course of a year, the best answer to the question could only be an approximation. Manufacturers facing increasingly tight profit margins may find that the difference between decisions based on purchase approximations and reality is the difference between profit and loss.

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Online Survey Champion

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