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What are the in-depth interviews? A case study

The personal in-depth interview is a qualitative research methodology that aims to see things from interviewee’s perspective, understanding the reasons for their actions and their interpretations of reality. A small number of people are involved, analysing with them a specific product or subject and collecting a large amount of behavioral details.

The conversation is conducted by a moderator who uses a fairly flexible discussion guide: the questions aim to understand the interviewee’s mental categories, their way of “seeing” the world, prompting them to critically reflect on the reasons for their choices.

This is a “semi-free” conversation: the moderator must be very experienced and the interviewee, carefully selected, is prompted to freely and in detail express their opinions and attitudes on a specific topic.

Qualitative research does not collect numbers and does not have statistical purposes but, through empathic work, tries to investigate the motivations, opinions and trends that are the basis of subsequent choices.

Recruitment & locations

Who can be interviewed with this methodology? Virtually all: it is a methodology that is useful in cross-cutting targets, from consumers, to doctors, to the so-called b2b (i.e. business to business) interviews (in this case, interviewees are managers who make commercial choices on behalf of their companies).

The first step is, as always, the recruitment: it is a matter of selecting individuals who – in terms of age, gender, cultural level, interests, purchasing habits or other – meet a specific profile. Since personal in-depth interviews involve a small number of respondents, it is particularly important that they are selected with the utmost care.

Where do personal in-depth interviews are carried out? Since these interviews are quite long, from 60 to 120 minutes, and aim to establish a relationship of empathy between the moderator and the interviewee, it is essential that the conversation takes place in a situation of maximum comfort.

The interview can be carried out in a central location or at the interviewee’s home or even, if the respondent is a doctor, at their office / clinic.

La central location è una struttura dove si svolgono ricerche di mercato, in genere si tratta di una bella sala accogliente con un grande tavolo sul quale sono disposte bevande e piccoli snack per fare in modo che i partecipanti si sentano a loro agio, dotata di impianti per audio e video registrazione, spesso separata da una sala attigua (sala-cliente) da uno specchio unidirezionale. In una central location è facile per il moderatore mostrare oggetti-stimolo quali prototipi di nuovi prodotti, materiale pubblicitario, locandine o board sui quali poi stimolare una discussione approfondita.

For a good qualitative interview

We have already underlined how the personal in depth interview does not set statistical objectives but instead tries to understand the reasons behind the behaviors and choices of respondents.

Another aspect not to be underestimated is the quality of the technological devices available: technology represents a fundamental support to be able to quickly and easily collect, archive and then study all the information collected.

Altro aspetto da non sottovalutare è la qualità dei supporti tecnologici a disposizione dell’intervistatore: la tecnologia rappresenta un aiuto fondamentale per poter raccogliere, archiviare e poi studiare in modo facile e veloce tutte le informazioni raccolte.