equipment is working, the volume setting is correct,
and you have blank tapes.
3. Conduct the Interview
It is very important to put the person you are interviewing at ease. Be certain to greet them warmly and thank
them for helping you. Begin briefly with some general conversation, perhaps based on something you know
about them or see from their office that may indicate a common interest. Then, follow this basic sequence.
¾ Explain the interview’s purpose and objectives. Ask if the person has any questions or concerns about
the interview. Address any issues.
¾ Obtain the person’s background information. This usually includes: name, title, company/organization,
role/responsibilities, education, previous positions, and involvement in professional organizations.
¾ Ask an easy or interesting question to get the person talking.
¾ Introduce questions in sequential order and follow your interview guide. Sometimes people answer a
question planned for later at an earlier time in the interview. Be prepared to record an answer whenever
it occurs and to skip a question if it already has been answered.
¾ Listen! Make eye contact and nod. Occasionally paraphrase what the person is saying. Keep the tone
conversational so the person doesn’t feel like they are being grilled. Keep your own comments short – be
careful not to talk too much, consuming your valuable time to hear from the other person.
¾ Record notes on your interview guide.
¾ Use a funneling technique to explore particular ideas in more detail. First, ask a general, open-ended
question, and then, follow up with questions to elicit more specifics.
Overhead Question: What do you think is important to know about employee retention?
Follow-up Question: You mentioned work-life balance as one important dimension,
could you tell me more about that?
¾ When you finish a major topic area, summarize and transition to the next topic.
¾ At the end of the interview, ask if there is anything more the person would like to add?
¾ Thank the person again and outline your next steps.
¾ Send a thank you note within one or two days of the interview.© 2001 Capella University
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4. Analyze the Interview Content
Once you’ve completed an interview, analyze the comments to determine what you’ve learned and to
establish any findings and conclusions.
¾ Transcribe the information from your interview guide. Match the interview comments to the key topics you
¾ Look for any patterns or themes in the responses.
o What facts and ideas did the person emphasize? (Look for repetition and ideas the person felt
o What additional information did they provide?
o How did responses confirm or refute other research?
o How biased were the person’s remarks? (Bias is one disadvantage of interviews.)
o Were there any surprises?
o What did the individual’s body language and demeanor communicate?
5. Report Your Findings
In some cases, you’ll need to communicate or document the results of your interview to others. You’ll need to
tailor your report to the appropriate audience. You should include the following in any document or report.
¾ State your interview purpose and objectives.
¾ Explain the method you used to obtain the information.
¾ Summarize the interview findings.
¾ State any conclusions you’ve drawn as a result of your analysis.
¾ If required, integrate your interview findings with other research.
Make certain you fulfill any other responsibilities or expectations connected with your interview(s).
¾ If appropriate, share your final document with the person you’ve interviewed.
¾ Fulfill any promises or actions you agreed upon as part of the interviewing process.
Interviews allow you to quickly obtain information that might take a great deal of time to find other ways. They
usually are an interesting and relatively easy method for gathering information. If you plan well, ask good
questions, and listen carefully, your interview will be a success!