Unstructured Interviews


Unstructured Interviews


  • Flexible method - researchers can explore new topics as they come up (no set questions) - so unfamiliar topics can be studied.
  • Validity is high - interviewees can give detailed responses/the answer they want. Questions/answers can be rephrased if not understood. Can build a rapport (relationship of trust & understanding) with the interviewee - allowing them to open up more.
  • Validity - may be higher than using questionnaires as questions/answers can be rephrased - especially useful when dealing with students/parents with poor language skills.
  • More suitable for sensitive topics e.g. bullying - can build a rapport.


  • Training may be required for people to do interviews - more costly
  • Transcribing (writing up) = time consuming + costly
  • Reliability - low as not standardised
  • Representativeness - low as small sample sizes (time consuming to carry out) mans it's hard to generalise findings.
  • Validity - lowered if the interviewee lies (face-to-face). Also, interviewer bias may occur, where the interviewers ask leading questions (ones which leading questions (ones which suggest an answer), or when they identify too much with the interviewees - affecting how they interpret answers.
  • Subjective - interviewer has to interpret the interviewees' answers - so not an objective (unbiased) method - but a subjective (biased) method, two people could interpret the same answer in a different manner.
  • Differences between the interviewer & participants such as class, gender & ethnicity may affect the honesty of interviewees - could lower validity.
  • Access - schools may not want students/teachers to be interviewed (time consuming) - meaning smaller samples/lower representativeness.
  • Representativeness - small sample sizes - so difficult to generalise the results across the education system.
  • Interviews with students can't be too long due to short-attention spans - limits the amount of data collected.


A general 'chat' around a topic led by the interviewee - with the interviewer asking questions based on what the interviewee says.


No comments have yet been made