Tips for writing good interview questions:This site gives good advice for avoiding leading and/or loaded questions.
Genzuk's SUMMARY GUIDELINES FOR INTERVIEWING
Dr. Michael Genzuk's site provides good advice for good interviews:
There is no one right way of interviewing, no single correct format that is appropriate for all situations, and no single way of wording questions that will always work. The particular evaluation situation, the needs of the interviewee, and the personal style of the interviewer all come together to create a unique situation for each interview. Therein lie the challenges of depth interviewing: situational responsiveness and sensitivity to get the best data possible.
There is no recipe for effective interviewing, but there are some useful guidelines that can be considered. These guidelines are summarized below (Patton, 1987).
Patton's interview guidelines
- Throughout all phases of interviewing, from planning through data collection to analysis, keep centered on the purpose of the research endeavor. Let that purpose guide the interviewing process.
- The fundamental principle of qualitative interviewing is to provide a framework within which respondents can express their own understandings in their own terms.
- Understand the strengths and weaknesses of different types of interviews: the informal conversational interview; the interview guide approach; and the standardized open-ended interview.
- Select the type of interview (or combination of types) that is most appropriate to the purposes of the research effort.
- Understand the different kinds of information one can collect through interviews: behavioral data; opinions; feelings; knowledge; sensory data; and background information.
- Think about and plan how these different kinds of questions can be most appropriately sequenced for each interview topic, including past, present, and future questions.
- Ask truly open-ended questions.
- Ask clear questions, using understandable and appropriate language.
- Ask one question at a time.
- Use probes and follow-up questions to solicit depth and detail.
- Communicate clearly what information is desired, why that information is important, and let the interviewee know how the interview is progressing.
- Listen attentively and respond appropriately to let the person know he or she is being heard.
- Avoid leading questions.
- Understand the difference between a depth interview and an interrogation. Qualitative evaluators conduct depth interviews; police investigators and tax auditors conduct interrogations.
- Establish personal rapport and a sense of mutual interest.
- Maintain neutrality toward the specific content of responses. You are there to collect information not to make judgments about that person.
- Observe while interviewing. Be aware of and sensitive to how the person is affected by and responds to different questions.
- Maintain control of the interview.
- Tape record whenever possible to capture full and exact quotations for analysis and reporting.
- Take notes to capture and highlight major points as the interview progresses.
- As soon as possible after the interview check the recording for malfunctions; review notes for clarity; elaborate where necessary; and record observations.
- Take whatever steps are appropriate and necessary to gather valid and reliable information.
- Treat the person being interviewed with respect. Keep in mind that it is a privilege and responsibility to peer into another person's experience.
- Practice interviewing. Develop your skills.
- Enjoy interviewing. Take the time along the way to stop and "hear" the roses.
And Sunstein and Chiseri-Strater's suggestions for ways to phrase good open questions:
Tell me more about the time when...
Describe the people who were most important to...
Describe the first time you...
Tell me about the person who taught you about...
What stands out for you when you remember...
Tell me the story behind that interesting item you have.
Describe a typical day in your life.
How would you describe yourself to yourself?
How would you describe yourself to others?