188.8.131.52 Sequence Using an interview or conversation to try to uncover the point of view of the respondent often requires that the researcher talks to the respondent on more than one occasion. Often, in-depth interviewing consists of a series of interviews. This may be a series of conversations and unstructured in-depth interviews, or an ever-more specific set of interviews ranging from conversations through unstructured in-depth interviews to a semi-structured or formal structured in-depth interview.
Often, second and subsequent interviews are likely to be more focused than preliminary interviews. Researchers approach follow-up interviews with more knowledge of the person and with a clearer understanding of what they want to know and the direction the research should take. Discussion on particular themes may be stimulated by referring to comments or ideas that arose during the first interview. With the benefit of preliminary interviews the interviewer will be able to interject questions where information is ambiguous or unclear and even politely stop and redirect informants if they are pursuing an area irrelevant to the research.
It might be necessary to increase the directiveness of questions throughout a final interview, to ensure that the informant's conceptions are clarified and all major areas of interest are addressed. At the end of the interview you may wish to ask direct questions about your original research ideas. The informant's responses may provide an interesting comparison to the data obtained by less direct questioning.
For example, in the 1930s, Clifford Shaw and associates at the Institute for Juvenile Research in Chicago used a sequence of interviews when collecting life histories. An initial interview generated a chronological list of major events in the research subject's life. This was used as a guide to the writing of the subject's 'own story', the elaboration of which was accomplished through further interviews (Shaw, 1930).