What is an in-depth interview?
An in-depth interview is a detailed conversation with one or more people from a specific group, formed according to certain criteria or randomly.
An in-depth interview is an empirical research method through which it is possible to study a particular audience, their preferences, needs, and demographics and to produce a desired product or idea based on the information gleaned.
In simple terms, in-depth interviews are conducted to understand people better. You can also conduct in-depth interviews using marketing experts, psychologists, or for sociologists to analyze social programmes. In the contemporary world, the in-depth interview method is useful when there is a need to get information about the customers of a product.
Conducting in-depth interviews
An in-depth interview is a detailed conversation with a specific person or group. It is a semi-formal research method that is difficult to standardize.
Questions for in-depth interviews are vital but equally important is the interviewer's ability to get the interviewee to talk, pick the right moment to ask follow-up questions, and let the person speak and be quiet.
In-depth interviews require first selecting a good interviewer and a respondent who can represent a specific group of people and express their common opinion.
In-depth interview analysis must consider the respondent's answers to questions and non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures, etc. Therefore, the interviewer must read the respondent's body language and take notes of these sorts of things.
The objectives of in-depth interviews
The main purpose of in-depth interviews is to obtain specific information from a particular group, but the nature of in-depth interviews may vary in different spheres.
In sociology, for example, in-depth interviews are often used to gather material for scientific research. On the flipside, in marketing, in-depth interviews are most often used for specific commercial purposes.
Marketing researchers often use the in-depth interview technique before launching a new product. However, this method can also be helpful in other situations. For example, when marketers need to establish why a particular product is not in demand by the audience.
The In-depth interview method
For a marketing research, in-depth interviews are commonly used in B2B (Business to Business) fields, while in-depth interviews are less common for researching consumers' opinions in general. Usually, this is done in cases where it is a question about something controversial, about which the respondents would be difficult to express honestly through generic quantitative questionnaires. So instead, the methods of in-depth interviews use qualitative interviews to get a detailed conversation with a representative of a particular group.
In-depth interviews can be individual (i.e., with one person), with two people, or even with a group of people simultaneously. The conditions under which interviews get conducted may also vary. For example, in-depth focused interviews imply closer acquaintance of respondents with the subject, preliminary test drive, or tasting. Such interviews allow you to gather unbiased opinions on the product and its user's experience.
In-depth interviews with users
For a marketing research, in-depth interviews with consumers are the most valuable. These interviews help you learn more about your customer and eventually increase your sales. You can also use the customer's knowledge to identify any problems with the product. In this case, a consumer may have profound knowledge about a product, more suitable for the definition of an expert. An in-depth interview with the head of the company is a method commonly used in the B2B sector because it is the best way for B2B companies to study their audience.
An interview with the owner of the company requires meticulous preparation. As a rule, the schedule of such a respondent does not allow you to devote a lot of time to the interview. Therefore, you need to use every minute to the maximum. But we must not forget about the respondent's situation: careless words of the head of the company can have an extremely negative impact on the business, and the company may suffer damage due to rash statements of the head. That is why, before an in-depth interview with the company's CEO, it is imperative to provide guarantees that the conversation is confidential and the words of the business owner will not be made public.
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Preparing for an in-depth interview
The in-depth interview is a method of collecting information about a group of people. In market research, the key factor will be how accurately the respondents in the in-depth interview represent the interests of the target audience. Consequently, focus groups get recruited according to marketers' specified parameters: sex, age, place of residence, and so on. Thus, matching the respondent or respondents to these parameters can be crucial for the study.
Before conducting an in-depth interview, it is important to be as specific as possible about the purpose of the study: what questions must get answered in the process? Of course, you do not need a large sample of respondents for in-depth interviews, but even a face-to-face interview with one well-selected respondent will yield a lot of valuable information.
Questions for in-depth interviews
Questions for in-depth interviews in the first place must not be closed-ended. That is, there shouldn't be a closed question questionnaire where it is only possible for the interviewee to give a "Yes," or "No" answer. The in-depth interview isn't intended to be used as a model for a step-by-step outline of the conversation. Nevertheless, creating a guide with essential topics for the interview is a great idea. An in-depth interview can and should be semi-structured: containing substantive questions but leaving room for the interviewer to maneuver.
It is good to use a biographical method for in-depth interviews, asking respondents about their experiences with a product or about their experiences in solving a certain problem. However, the unit's structure when using the in-depth interview method is not a question or a set of questions but the topic of the interview itself. Therefore before the interview, it is worthwhile only to make a rough list of questions that the interviewer will need to adapt for the specific consumer to obtain as much data as possible.
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The structure of the in-depth interview
An in-depth interview should never look like a simple test to customers. The in-depth interview method does not involve simply filling out questionnaires. If the respondent answers the question briefly, it is worth asking them to explain their answer.. The interview structure will depend upon what the company wants to achieve.
In-depth interviews usually take at least half an hour. Beginners expect an hour and a half, and this does not take into account the time it takes to analyze the results. Therefore, when compiling a timeline, you should not expect the respondent to answer all the questions instantly. In addition, it is worth providing time for a coffee break so that the respondent has the opportunity to recover and return to the conversation rested.
The characteristics of in-depth interviews
The purpose of an in-depth interview for market research is to get information about the customer experience. For CustDev, the in-depth interview is indispensable because you can use it to gather as much information about the customer experience as possible. Notwithstanding, the in-depth interview method has its pros and cons. For example, in-depth interviews are not very informative for start-ups: customers simply do not have the experience of using the product and cannot provide information about this experience.