How to do an interview?

Picture_018.jpgInterviews are a way to gather knowledge about the experiences, attitudes, opinions and preferences of people, in their own words. Depending on your need, you can conduct an interview using a predefined set of questions (structured interview) that will be presented to all interviewees. Alternatively, you can have a more open set of questions (semi-structured interview) that can vary according to how each interviewee responds. Unstructured interviews (asking as few questions as possible and letting the interviewee speak) can potentially bring up unexpected views and  ideas. This type of interview, however, is the most time consuming and difficult to manage.

What you need to do: 
  • A person or persons who are willing to be interviewed about the topic.
  • A list of questions you want ask (stuctured interview) or themes/topics you want to pursue. Please make sure they are understandable and connect with the daily life and experiences of your interviewee.
  • Some equipment to make notes or record the answers (computer, pen & paper or audio recorder).
  • Explain clearly to the interviewee why he/she was invited and how you will use the results of the interview.
When does it work?: 
  • Interviews are usually quite easy to do, flexible and offer direct interaction with the interviewee. It allows you to adjust your questions, depending on the answers.
  • An interview could be very motivating to your interviewees, if they find the topic interesting. In some cases, they might want to talk for hours…
  • Your interview can concentrate e.g. on what problems people have with energy or saving energy, what advice they need and what other support they need.
What do you need to look out for: 
  • You should be careful that you don’t ask too complicated or leading questions.
  • People may be polite or want to make a good impression on you. In the interview, they may appear more eager and interested in energy issues than they usually are. Don't take everything people say at face value.