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H809 – Effect of interviewing style (A11.3)

May 1, 2011

Here are three variants of asking questions using interviews.

  1. Interview: A woman with a clipboard stops you in the street and asks you a lot of questions about ‘topic’
  2. Interview: Somebody phones you up to ask you about ‘topic’
  3. Interview: You are asked to take part in an e-interview, using email about ‘topic’

What is ‘new’ about interview 3?

I would not consider it as new, because I use email already quite a long time, and studying with the OU kind of immersed already with e-interviews, e-surveys. What is different is that the interview is not synchronous, i.e. you not talking directly to the person who interviews you, in person or via telephone, but you have time to think about your answers before you response. Personally, I prefer that way, but it might take as well some spontaneity away.

One students mentioned continuity,

‘ i.e. following up on and developing original answers over time. Having a conversation thread to look back on facilitates reflection, which is not possible in ‘one off’ interviews. Analysing the chronological development of answers could lead to a more in-depth understanding of interviewee responses.’

Good point, it should have occurred to me, as I just had to conduct an interview and also had to get back to my interview partner to ask her some additional questions that I missed during our original telephone interview.

Imagine you are being interviewed about your views on government spending on education.

  • Do you think your answers would be differently, depending upon which of the three interview methods mentioned above was actually used?
  • How would they be different?
  • What if the top was whether you had ever broken professional rules?

First of all, I avoid all kind of interviews. I give a wide berth if I see somebody with a clipboard, regardless which topic they are researching. I also decline telephone interviews and I never received an invitation for an e-interview. The reasons I do not participate are the same mentioned in the week 11 podcast – privacy issues and lack of time. I know lack of time is mainly used as an excuse, but it does apply in my case – my MAODE study keeps me more than busy 😉

However, I have to admit that my willingness to participate in an interview, independently from the interview style, would be a lot higher when asked about government spending on education rather than if I ever broke professional rules.

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