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Interviews are revolved around individuals everywhere in everyday life.
Qualitative interviewing has been of major significance in society today for
researchers or investigators, allowing them to collect information rich in
detail. It is a valuable research method for exploring “data on
understandings, opinions, what people remember doing through their past
experiences, attitudes, feelings and what people have in common” (Hilary
Arksey, 1999).
Thus, the interviewees are given the opportunity
to expand on their responses on the questions they are asked about upon their
feelings and personal experiences. The aim is often about interpretation and
understanding their personal experiences. It is therefore, not about
‘fact-finding’ or getting answers to questions exactly how interviewers expect
them (Warren, 1988). Consequently, a thorough explanation will be provided alongside the advantages and
disadvantages of qualitative interviewing and whether this form of interviewing
is most beneficial for research participants when carrying out a research.
Finally, a conclusion will summarise the importance of this research method and
whether it should be used more often by researchers than others forms of
research methods.

According to Oakley, A. qualitative interviewing
is a type of structure in which the practices and measures be recorded, as well
as accomplished, tested and in addition strengthened (Oakley, 1998). In qualitative interviewing, the
respondent’s experience has differing qualities and implications and the
meeting can investigate these and their social association.(Jaber F. Gubrium, 2001). This type of interview is known to be semi-structured
which means that the interviewer has a specific topic to speak to the
respondent about however, this doesn’t mean the questions and answers have
limitations. There is no set order of questions nor a specific rule of carrying
out the interview as it is mainly focused on collecting live data on people’s
cultures and their thoughts and opinions of specific topics, enabling the
interviewer to collect in-depth feedback. In a qualitative interview the aim of
the researcher is to find out and hear the respondent’s ideas and the
significance about the topic being discussed in their own words. Nonetheless,
while qualitative interviews are occurring, the interviewer tends to open the
conversation in such a way that it might not even feel like an expected
interview to the respondent and will continue the interview in this way. Yet, the
researcher has a plan of getting as much information from the respondent as he
or she possibly can by conducting his or her interview in an informal way.

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There are many advantages when taking a
qualitative interview. Compared to other forms of data research, qualitative
interviewing allows the interviewee to not only discuss minimum issues, but to
go in depth and discuss high profile and confidential topics which helps the
researchers interview to be rich in detail. When undergoing qualitative
research, there is almost no limit to the depth of information you may obtain
depending on the subject of interest which may be chosen by the researcher.
Therefore, the questions which researchers ask their participants may be
answered with no fixed ‘closed answers’ needed, meaning they may answer the
questions asked in any way without meeting conditions or limited answers
needed. For instance, some questionnaires may include questions with specific
‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers which are fixed, but within qualitative research this is
not necessary for participants as they can expand on their responses through
their past experiences.

Furthermore, another advantage of
investigators conducting their research through qualitative interview is that
they will gather first person data. For example, during the interview the
respondent will be able to provide their viewpoint about the topic being
discussed. There is huge significance in this as it allows the researcher to
get an exact sentiment of what is heard so, unlike other types of interviews
the respondents will show their pure emotions and will be leading to go
in-depth with their feelings in the discussion. Thus, allowing the researcher
to collect a more expansive response which provides a more detailed and
personal interview taken place. Lastly, research participants undertaking
qualitative interview with their clients assure that honest feedback will be
provided by the respondents. During a qualitative interview, as it is such a
personal one to one conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee,
there is a natural tendency for the interviewee to respond with the truth. Even
more so, sometimes respondents may not understand what is expected by the
interviewer when asked a question which means it could persuade the respondent
to talk more freely with honesty.

Surely, with all the strengths of qualitative
interviewing there are some limitations. One disadvantage of researchers
conducting their research using qualitative interviews is that during the
interview the interviewer is dependent and relies upon the respondent to
honesty and accurately answer the questions being asked. This means the
interviewer wants the participants to honestly reminiscence on their personal
lives and their experiences, feelings, thoughts and opinions. For instance,
Esterberg, K.G. specifically points out that, “If you want to know about what people actually do, rather than what
they say they do, you should probably use observation rather than interviews” (Esterberg, 2002).Thus, the
information the respondent gives may not be of the truth. This may be because
evidently, people do not trust interviewers as they may feel that if they say
the wrong or misunderstanding statement it may lead to a harsh consequence. For
instance, when interviewing a witness of a crime, they may intend to ‘remain
silent’ even when undergoing a qualitative interview which may be problematic
as not enough ‘rich’ detail is collected. Further, not providing truthfulness
to an interview from the interviewee may be time consuming and costly which
leads to another disadvantage of a qualitative interview.

Interviewing is simply time consuming and
quite costly to say the least. Undergoing a qualitative interview needs time to
conduct the interview in the best possible manner to be able to gain the most
relevant and important information. There needs to be suitable planning done
from interviewing the right person, to interviewing in the correct environment
and of course, providing the best and most comfortable atmosphere for the
interviewee to be confident enough to be honest. With all that put together helps
a successful interview to take place and then also offering the respondent some
monetary enticement for participating. A researcher would need to consider
these points and then complete the interview successfully to collect information
rich in detail but also ensuring any losses he or she would need to cover in
relation to time and money. Moreover, qualitative interview does not reach out
to get a wider audience response to the data the researcher is collecting,
which also is a limitation. For example, researchers will only get the opinion
of the individual or a minority group when asking questions. Consequently, it
doesn’t make the material collected beneficial enough, simply because society
has many people who think differently which makes it difficult for the
researcher to understand everyone’s thoughts. However, if the researcher knows
the exact type of information he or she is after and it does not need a lot of
people to take part in sharing their responses then, this type of interview is
suitable for researchers who know exactly the data they are seeking (Dörnyei,
2007).

In conclusion, qualitative interview has many advantages and
disadvantages. During qualitative interviewing researchers can collect rich in
detail and in-depth information. Researchers get the opportunity to get a first
person understanding from the respondents on their thoughts, opinions and
behaviours on specific topics discussed by the researcher. It also gives the
respondent to be open and express their feelings allowing them to explain what
goes on in their society thus making it beneficial for the researcher to expand
on points to gain more detail. Further, qualitative interview aids for a clear
picture to be built on certain behaviours and their reasoning as to why people
act in certain ways but also shows how the respondents feel about these situations.
On the other hand, qualitative interviewing has its drawbacks. The researcher
is not able to know whether the respondent is telling the truth or just
answering with false information just to get the interview over and done with.
Also, it takes time to conduct an interview alongside financial side of it all
must be considered as it can cost to undergo a qualitative interview. Even more
so, less people will be studied during the interview which means the data
collected wouldn’t be representative of society as fewer people are
interviewed. This makes it difficult to get a variety of people’s views on
certain matters which isn’t as useful because people’s opinions differ.
Consequently, qualitative interviewing has its many advantages and
disadvantages when finding out about the social world. Each and one of the
methodologies used when researchers study participants has their strengths and
weaknesses however, they bond together to make a clear understanding of our
social world. 

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