Engaging Intensive Interviews

Interviewing is the most common method of data collection in qualitative inquiry. It has sparked much debate and discussion yet researchers have given relatively little concrete advice about how to develop effective interviewing skills. The purpose of this class is to give you a foundation for building skills to engage in mindful interviewing practice. We will take a collaborative approach to learning about interviewing and developing interviewing skills in a supportive environment.

Intensive interviewing is both a method and an intimate form of human connection seldom experienced between relative strangers. The interview experience can be revelatory and transformative for both the researcher and research participant. Yet because interviewing is a contested method, I will briefly outline criticisms of it. We will address questions of ethics, meaning, reflexivity, and co-construction of data and discuss complex situations that can occur when researchers interview people across racial, class, age, and gender divides. However, our main emphases will be on:

  1. constructing, ordering, and asking good in-depth interview questions
  2. being fully present while conducting the interview

To start, we will work on constructing an interview guide with well-designed and paced questions. If you can create a good interview guide, you will become more attuned to how and when to ask to questions—even if you don’t use your interview guide. You will also become more sensitive to how research participants might think, feel, and respond to your questions. The class will give you opportunities to devise sample interview questions on a topic of your choice, conduct a short practice interview, and experience the interview process as a research participant. In this class, learning relies on direct experience, collaborative efforts, congenial interaction, and constructive feedback. We will have great fun engaging intensive interviews!