Unstructured Interviews - Essay Example

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Unstructured interviews are so labeled because the interviewer does not have a planned sequence of questions to be asked of the respondent. The interviewer may have some key questions formulated in advance. Unstructured interviews allow questions based on respondent's response…
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Unstructured Interviews
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Unstructured Interviews Unstructured interviews are so labeled because the interviewer does not have a planned sequence of questions to be asked of the respondent. However, the interviewer may have some key questions formulated in advance. Unstructured interviews allow questions based on respondent's response. The interview style is generally unstructured and interviewees have the freedom to tell their biographical stories in their own way, although there may be some gentle guidance offered by the interviewer in order to keep the narrative going.
Unstructured style of interviewing, like anything else in the world, has its set of advantages and disadvantages. It is considered by some as an unreliable tool for conducting interview due to various reasons. Some of the limitations of unstructured interviewing are as follows:
Unstructured interview is more like a conversation dominated by the respondent but initiated by a question. There is a temptation on the part of the respondent to discuss more unusual and different areas that he/she deals with, whereas the primary purpose of the interview is to concentrate on the central issues. This can lead to a situation where the purpose of the interview is not satisfied.
Age, gender, ethnicity of the respondent may affect the responses of the respondent. This would make comparison between responses from various respondents difficult.
Interviewer bias is yet another problem with this type of interviewing. The description provided and ideas expressed by the respondent will be judged by the interviewer with a prejudiced mind.
The respondents, based on the social desirability, would want to present themselves in a certain way. They may not reveal the true picture.
There is also the question of reliability with respect to the explanations given by the respondent. Not all respondents would tell complete truth. There may be replications and intentional lying.
This type of interviewing may prove to be time consuming. The respondents have control over the conversation and they don't always know when to stop.
Despite the various drawbacks, unstructured interviewing has been chosen by many employers due to various positive aspects, some of which are as follows:
Unstructured interviewing follows a very informal and open style. This puts the respondent at ease and allows him/her to open up.
This is the most suitable type of interviewing to research sensitive issues.
It permits full exploration of ideas and beliefs. It creates a scope for the interviewer to ask further questions as well as for the respondent to develop the answers and provide further explanation.
Its flexibility allows interviewer to pursue points he/she is interested in.
However, the interviewer, if found necessary, can alternatively adopt an approach called semi-structured interviewing which combines the advantages of structured as well as unstructured interviewing.
"Primary Research Methods". 21 May 2009. Read More
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