In our last blog, we discussed the basics of focus groups. In this blog we’ll focus on in-depth interviews, another research methodology commonly used by qualitative research consultants. Focus groups are small groups comprised of six to 12 study participants. In-depth interviews are limited to one participant and a moderator and because the moderator doesn’t need to split his/her attention amongst a larger group, the conversation can go deeper.
In-depth interviews can be carried in three ways:
- Telephone or video call
Commonly, in-depth interviews are conducted over the phone or by video call, as it keeps expenses down and is just as effective as being in-person. Scheduling in-depth interviews by phone is also a preferred way to connect with busy experts, consultants, professionals, and senior executives.
Market researchers commonly interview prospects, customers, product users, executives, and experts.
Depending on the scope of the qualitative market study, a moderator will interview a few people or several dozen. The market research agency will work in tandem with the client to determine the research goals, number of topics, schedule, segments, and budget. The scope of the project will determine the optimal number of in-depth interviews or focus groups required.
Recruiting for In-Depth Interviews
If in-depth interviews are important to the overall project, qualitative research consultants will typically schedule between 15 and 30 in-depth interviews for each major segment for a research project. Similar to scheduling focus groups, market researchers will try and recruit qualified participants for more in-depth interviews than may actually be required. The reason for this is because of saturation. This is when answers to questions start to sound similar, with little new, or of little value, information being discovered. Experienced market researchers will be on the lookout for patterns in answers and will decide if the study requires all the scheduled interviews to go through, or if sufficient information has been collected with fewer than originally planned.
As with any qualitative study, recruiting the appropriate participants is as important as the study itself. Most researchers work closely with a nationwide recruitment agency to help them find qualified candidates to participate in qualitative market research studies. Market research recruiting firms have the experience and networks to cast a wide net to find the best-qualified people for studies. They also help manage this component of a study, freeing up valuable time and energy for the market researcher to focus on other crucial components of the overall study.
For copywriters, product managers, sales managers, marketing or ad managers, or small business owners, consider in-depth interviews as an alternative to focus groups.
Once all the necessary in-depth interviews have been completed, it’s time to compile all the information and code it so that patterns between responses can be identified. This is usually the most tedious part of qualitative research, and the reason that many companies decide to outsource market research to professional qualitative market research agencies.