Orientation Observation In-depth interviews Document analysis and semiology Conversation and discourse analysis Secondary Data Surveys Experiments Ethics Research outcomes



Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2020

Page updated 29 April, 2020

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2020, Researching the Real World, available at
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A Guide to Methodology

4. In-depth interviews

4.1 Introduction to in-depth interviewing
4.2 Types of in-depth interview
4.3 Methodological approaches to in-depth interviews
4.4 Doing in-depth interviews

4.4.1 Constructing an interview guide
4.4.2 Setting up the interviews Rapport Probing Foreign language complications Remote interviewing Follow-up interviews Focus groups

4.4.4 Recording interview data

4.5 Analysing in-depth interview data
4.6 Summary and conclusion

4.4 Doing in-depth interviews Foreign language complications
In some circumstances the interviewer and respondent do not share the same native language. In which case care has to be taken to ensure that the questions asked are understood and the meaning of the responses have been grasped correctly by the interviewer.

If the interviewer is satisfied that he or she is competent in the respondent's language then the interview can proceed without the aid of a translator but it is worth, if possible and if the respondent agrees, to make a mechanical recording of the conversation so that any nuances or misunderstandings can be checked later.

The respondent may be competent in the interviewer's language, which may also obviate the need for a translator. However, again it is a good idea to record the conversation in order to check the responses to see if the respondent has misunderstood anything due to language competency limitations.

If the interviewer and respondent do not have a common language of competency then an interpreter needs to be used. This raises several issues.

First, the interview will take longer as the interpreter has to communicate the response from the respondent to the interviewer, who then asks the next question, which has to be translated.

Second, to what extent does the interpreter have lee-way to ask the question in a way that is culturally appropriate rather than ask the question exactly (or as near as exact as possible) as the interviewer asked it?

Third, does the interpreter provide a verbatim response to the researcher or just the essence of the response. The former may involve breaking into the respondent's flow and the latter may miss something important. If the latter, the interpreter needs to be well versed with the objectives and nuances of the research.

In any event, ensure, if at all possible, that an interview using an interpreter is recorded so that it can be checked later.


Next 4.5 Analysing in-depth interview data