In Depth Interview in Phenomenology

Categories: Qualitative

During the data collection phase a researcher has to conduct interviews and focus group discussions. In in depth interviews there are certain guidelines that one can follow. These are:

1. As this is an unstructured interview, therefore , no prepared questions are required. First of all this does not mean that a researcher does not have to prepare for the interview; it simply means that there is no structured instrument needed. A structured interview is the one in which one provides the respondents with the choices to mark as his his response. In a semi structured interview, a researcher has open ended questions to as. However, in an unstructured interview niether open ended nor closed ended questions are required. This is because of the fact that one never knows what form an interview is going to take. Neither the researcher nor the respondent knows what result this interaction between them is going to generate.


2. However, instead of preparing interview questions, the researcher can identify themes for interview. A theme actually is a focus; it is an aspect of the issue under consideration that the researcher wants to focus. Thus, interviewing a kidney patient about his disease , if a researcher wants to focus on pain management issues, then this will become his major focus. Moreover, even during the interview one can narrow down this general focus to issues like (borrowing Glaser’s Grounded Theory Example Here) resting, medication and pacing. So, a general focus or theme can be further narrowed during the interview.


3. Since, in phenomenology one is more interested in the experiences of a respondent, therefore, it is not enough to know how a respondent judges something; the important thing is to know the experience/or experiences that led him to this judgment.


4. Since, in phenomenology , the focus is not on the world , rather it is one the subject or person who experiences the world, therefore, it is important to know how the respondent experienced the world, or any particular issue or situation. So, for instance if a researcher is interested in knowing how a respondent has experienced the visit to certain park, he should focus on the way this park was experienced by the respondent, and not the specific details of the park. So, a researcher is not particularly interested in how many entrances, swings and canteens were there in the park, but in knowing the way a respondent experienced these objects. And in doing so , he has to take his respondent to a stage where he starts reflecting on his past experience, and tell the researcher about his feelings, expectations, fears thoughts, stimuli selection etc. In short he has to tell how he was conscious of these things.


So, these are a few guidelines for conducting an interview in phenomenological research. 


By Khalid Jamil Rawat