Interviewing Best Practices: 5 Tips to Use

best practices interviewing respondents mcdonaldsMother: “My daughter loves my cooking. She says it is her favorite thing to eat.”

Daughter enters room

Researcher: “What’s your favorite thing to eat?”

Daughter: “McDonalds!”

There isn’t always a blunt young child in the room to check one’s statements for truth. If only there were! We would never have to worry about the clarity of answers we hear . . .

Being able to identify the difference between someone telling you what they think you want to hear and telling you the truth is a difficult subject matter. One cannot make a decision based on a single element alone.

To help, I am sharing what I believe are some interviewing best practices: 5 tips to use that are powerful in my own research.

1. Listening alone is not enough 
2. You need to be able to read their face
3. Judge their body language
4. Cross examine statements that were made prior for comparison
5. Ask the question again, but in a different way

This means the level of engagement during your conversation needs to be highly involved and very aware of the person being interviewed.

It’s important to ground yourself, the researcher, as truly leveled and interested in the individual you are talking to and not “above” or “more aware” than them. Users often feel they are taking a test and want to make sure they answer the questions correctly. Leveling with the respondent early on helps establish you as an individual as opposed to someone who knows something they don’t.

If you find yourself in the middle of a conversation where it’s obvious the respondent is feeling judged, take the time to pause and let them know there is no wool being pulled over their eyes or any assumptions being made. Sometimes it just takes a little reminder during the session.

With this being said, maybe the next time you interview a parent or anyone for that matter, they won’t feel the need to say the right thing and will hopefully be comfortable sharing the truth.