Whether you’re conducting product, consumer, or general market research, you probably rely on interviews a lot to get as much information as possible. Well, a qualitative interview is one of the most useful tools at your disposal in a typical market study. However, interviewing is as much an art as it is a science, and it’s important that you manage both aspects effectively to get the best-desired outcome.
A qualitative interview enables you to get the most out of your respondent if you structure it properly and know how to analyze the responses you receive. According to The Hartford, qualitative research offers anecdotal insight into your company. This is an important type of data, and hence, you should know how to make the best use of it.
A qualitative interview is an in-depth approach to research wherein the interviewer poses open-ended questions on a particular topic to a respondent. It usually has a flexible structure to allow the interviewee to express their thoughts or feelings on the subject matter in their own words.
With this approach, you don’t have to ask questions in any particular order. What the respondent says usually plays a big role in determining the flow of the interview from one question to another.
See Also: Qualitative Research Interviews for Novice Researchers
You should choose the right interview structure for your qualitative research based on project objectives and the depth or precision of the information you want. This way, you can obtain relevant feedback to produce an actionable report or send the audio to qualitative research transcription services for sharing with internal teams later on. Here are the three main structures:
Unstructured interviews are the least precise of all options as they don’t incorporate a set of predetermined questions or a guide. This approach can work for you during the early stages of a study when you only have little knowledge of the subject matter and look to gather a lot of information from the respondent. In this case, the respondent's “freestyle” feedback decides the general direction of the qualitative interview.
With a semi-structured interview, you’ll have your prewritten questions, but you can adapt to issues of interest that emerge at any point during the discussion. The guide you prepare for it enables you to keep the process within a topic or maintain the desired line of questioning throughout. It’s best to use a flexible qualitative interview structure when you already have a market or consumer knowledge but seek to fill crucial information gaps or get more precise insights. You may leverage it in a study on consumer attitudes, opinions, or behavior.
The other two qualitative interview approaches are open-ended, but a structured interview only has closed questions with no room for deviation. Regardless of the number of respondents or interviews involved, the questionnaire uses the same questions, usually with “yes” or “no” as the only possible responses. Alternatively, respondents may be offered multiple choices from which they can select one or more responses. The rigid structure allows the interview to be standardized, and it simplifies analysis, such as when conducting large-scale market research.
Market research can reveal trends that don’t make sense at all, such as product A doing better than product B despite your projections indicating otherwise. Often, that’s just accurate raw data telling you what’s happening on the ground without explaining why. A qualitative interview lets you hear straight from the horse’s mouth to understand the data better, such as why consumers prefer products A to B.
Benefits of using qualitative research transcription include:
Qualitative research transcription turns audio or video research data and information into a text-based format, making it easier to evaluate and disseminate.
Transcribing your qualitative research audios, films, and interviews may make scanning the transcription and searching for the needed data easier. It saves time because you don't have to replay the audio numerous times to get the data.
Transcribed files may be shared more easily than video or audio files. They are often smaller than audio and video files and require less memory to retrieve.
Audio and video files might get damaged or lost over time. However, transcribed files are easy to keep and can be used for future studies. Text interviews can also be saved in other media, such as a cloud or flash drive.
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The main differences between qualitative and quantitative research are:
|Qualitative Research||Quantitative Research|
It’s an inquiry that helps you understand how consumers think or feel.
|It’s a study method that generates numerical data using statistics and logic.|
|Subjective and guided by deductive reasoning.|
|The researcher is deeply involved.||The researcher is uninvolved (makes conclusions solely based on observation and analysis.|
|Information gathered is verbal or based on words, images, symbols, etc.||Gathers measurable data.|
There are different types of qualitative research for business, such as in-depth interviews to extract customer experience insights. In some cases, you’d send questionnaires to respondents in case of a large-scale study or do a recorded interview on the telephone or online platforms like Zoom. Such qualitative interviews can help you demystify specific market phenomena impacting the overall success of your products.
Sometimes you have to step out into the field and conduct multiple face-to-face interviews to understand consumer behavior better. This effort can be helpful when you’re looking to make direct observations in a target geographic area or community of consumers.
See Also: What Are the Key Differences Between Primary and Secondary Research?
How great a listener you are will be evident once you review your recording or after you obtain your verbatim document transcription. Here are some active listening tips for qualitative interviews:
Switch off your phone or don’t bring it to the interview (avoid distractions)
Incorporate body language, such as leaning in during the interview
Make eye contact, but don’t lock eyes
Acknowledge when appropriate (say things like I see, what an eye-opener, etc.)
Reference previous responses
Always let the respondent finish their answer, if possible
It’s okay to pause
Stay focused in the moment throughout
Seek clarification, such as when the response is vague
You can meet the interviewee in person, especially if the qualitative interview doesn’t involve too many respondents. However, it’d be more convenient to hold such discussions over the phone or video chat when conducting a large-scale consumer study. Focus groups can also participate in such surveys, which should typically last 30 minutes.
6 Steps for Executing Qualitative Research:
Set goals: What information are you after, and what do you wish to do with it? For example, do you plan to expand your product line based on consumer demand?
Choose interviewees: If you’re looking into the market competition, you should interview people who use your competitor’s products. If assessing the UX, existing customers should be interviewed.
Develop survey structure: Choose your open-ended questions and ensure they’re tied to the information you’re after. Create an interview guide, too.
Determine interview format: Select an appropriate setting and format for the interview, keeping the respondent’s comfort in mind. Set up the recording environment, and be sure to rehearse the interview.
Execute the interview: Exchange introductory pleasantries as you begin the interview. Be flexible with your questions, but don’t interrogate your guest.
Transcribe the interview: Audio or video transcription can help you make the most of your qualitative research, including enhancing collaboration with colleagues during analysis.
Analyze the report: Did you get the answers you sought? It’s time to summarize lessons and provide recommendations.
To simplify the process of analyzing your qualitative interview, get the text document from your audio transcription ready. You can then choose an analysis approach to compare emerging consumer sentiments against what you already know. Finally, write a report on key findings with references to your research objectives.
There are two approaches to qualitative analysis:
Furthermore, two methods of inductive qualitative analysis are also available. They are known as theme content analysis and narrative analysis. Inductive analysis is based on a common theme and individual stories, whereas deductive analysis is based on a pre-determined framework.
Each of these qualitative analysis methodologies contributes to the research endeavor in some way. The inductive analysis will yield more complex results. Meanwhile, deductive analyses enable the researcher to highlight crucial topics relevant to their research.
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