Fuel Cycle

5 Common Mistakes Researchers Make When Conducting In-Depth Interviews

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In-depth interviews are a form of qualitative market research where researchers collect customer data from small, carefully selected participants. Researchers may utilize in-depth interviews when there is a need for insightful responses, quick turn-around time, and lower costs.

Though this market research method has many advantages, there are several pitfalls that researchers will want to avoid for the best results. 

1. Not Researching Subjects Before Doing In-depth Interviews 

Because in-depth interviews are smaller and more intimate than large focus groups, researchers must do their homework before meeting with their interviewees. Encouraging open and honest feedback is essential to the interview’s success, so it’s best to avoid sabotaging the process by appearing unprepared. Having a general background of your respondents will allow you to ask thoughtful poignant questions that elicit quality responses. 

2. Not Knowing Their Own Bias

Bias among interviewers and respondents is a significant problem no matter what type of market research you are conducting; however, you can safeguard yourself against potential bias by simply asking better interview questions. 

Ensure your questions are easily understood by all demographics, avoid uncommon words, jargon, and abbreviations. Additionally, ask only question at a time and have back-up questions in case respondents get confused. 

3. Asking Double-Barreled Questions 

Do not confuse the interviewee by asking double-barreled questions or questions that have two (or more) questions within them. An example of a double-barrelled problem would be, “Is our product affordable and easy to use?” This type of questioning leads to vague and disjointed responses.

Try asking, “Is our product affordable?” and “Is our product easy to use?” as two separate questions instead. 

4. Asking Leading Questions

When you conduct an in-depth interview, you want to obtain real uncensored feedback about a product or service. The questions you ask should be neutral and not lead a respondent in one direction or the other to meet that goal. For example, asking an interviewee a question like, “As a divorced man, how do you feel about our services?” will likely elicit a different response than, “How do you think men feel about our services?” 

If you want to dig deeper into a particular topic, stick to responses like, “Why?”, “How?” or “What do you mean by that?”

5. Not Being Flexible 

While it’s essential to be prepared for in-depth interviews, it’s also necessary to stay flexible. When you have a strict list of questions that you don’t veer from, you could potentially miss out on “off the cuff” responses. Freeform conversation can lead to meaningful feedback, too, so be prepared to go off course. 

Enhance Your Market Research Game

Market research isn’t cheap, so many companies opt for in-depth interviews to interview fewer people in a shorter time-frame, save money, and get results quickly. Though this research method has many benefits, researchers still need to ensure they are prepared, avoid bias, ask the right questions, and remain flexible to get the most bang for their bucks.  

For more information on how to conduct in-depth interviews in the COVID-19 era, check out our post on virtual in-depth interviews.

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