Aim To describe three styles of interviews and discuss issues regarding planning and conducting interviews.
Background Interviews are probably the approach most used to collect data in studies. They are particularly useful in uncovering the story behind a participant’s experiences. Researchers can follow a line of questions to gain information about a topic, or further explore responses or findings. But the researcher needs to plan and decide the format of the interview before collecting data.
Review methods The authors included papers on structured, unstructured and semi-structured interviews published in a peer-reviewed journal and in English.
Discussion Interviews are one of the most common methods of data collection in qualitative research. However they require the researcher to have a sound understanding of their use and appropriateness. The ability to conduct interviews is one that develops over time and to aid the researcher in developing their interview skills they should consult with other researchers, seeking comments and advice and, critically, to appraise audio recordings.
Conclusion This article aims to support students who are undertaking research modules as part of their academic studies, writing a research proposal or novice researchers who are about to use interviews as a means of data collection.
Implications for research/practice To conduct a successful interview, researchers need to develop their interview technique, choose the right method and carefully plan for all aspects of the process.