In-depth interviews are a great way for researchers to gather rich, qualitative data from key respondents. They’re typically used as a standalone research method, or can be an instrumental part of a hybrid research strategy.

What is an “In-Depth Interview”?

The term “in-depth interview” is very indicative of its definition. It involves asking a respondent, who typically represents a targeted segment, a series of open-ended questions meant to gather and record critical qualitative research.

The typical in-depth interview is conducted in a one-on-one face-to-face. This allows researchers to be able to build a rapport with the respondent, as well as their assess non-verbal language.

When it’s Appropriate to Conduct an In-Depth Interview

There are a lot of factors that determine whether or not it’s a good idea to add in-depth interviews to your research mix. The most notable have mostly to do with research objectives or research constraints including timeline, budget, and other chosen methods.

To know for sure whether or not an in-depth interview is appropriate, assess the advantages and disadvantages to see if they fit within your research strategy. 

Advantage and Limitations


  • In-depth interviews allow the interview and conductor to establish a rapport that can produce a lot of insightful information.
  • In-depth interviewers have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions or re-cover key questions to gather rich information about perspectives and attitudes.
  • Researchers can focus on the data presented by one respondent versus a whole group.
  • In-depth interviews are opportunities to pinpoint valuable data points that can be used organization-wide.


  • In-depth interviews are typically time-consuming and costly.
  • They rely heavily on the skills of the researcher, so the data isn’t skewed or bias.
  • Respondents may expect an incentive to be a part of the interview.

How to Conduct an In-Depth Interview

1. Plan The planning phase of in-depth interviews involve identifying:

  • Key stakeholders
  • The information needed and from whom
  • Consult resources about ethical interview guidelines

2. Develop Instruments – Specifically define interview guidelines and objectives to maintain consistency and avoid skews or bias.

3. Train Interviewers – The research gathered from an in-depth interview is only as good as the researcher collecting. Train researchers to ensure they’ll successfully execute objectives.

4. Collect the data – Set up the interview and get interviewee consent. After conducting the interview base don your guidelines in step 2, summarize key data immediately following the interview.

5. Analyze data – Review the data to identify key data points, trends, key findings, or observations.

6. Disseminate findings – Record your findings from step 5 and compile them into an easily-digestible report.

How to Present Findings

There isn’t necessarily one general guideline for presenting findings, though most of them are laid out in the following way”

Introduction and Justification – An overview of the research and why it was conducted.

Methodology – The various methods used to conduct the research.

Results – A summary of the research results and key data points.

Conclusion and Recommendations – The over-all conclusion of the research and what the data concludes, and what should be done with it.

Appendices (including the interview guide(s)) – Tools, sources, etc.

Key Takeaway

An in-depth interview is best used when the advantages and disadvantages have been assessed, but they’re all carried out following the same course of action: planning, developing instruments, training interviewers, collecting the data, analyzing the data, and disseminating the findings. Regardless, it can be a highly effective research tool that can uncover valuable, insightful data if done correctly and with the right researcher.