Reimagining the interview

By Kelly Wakefield

As a PhD student about to embark on data collection through semi-structured interviews, the concepts, debates and literature surrounding this research method is plentiful.  There are many ideas  as to how to conduct the best interview and techniques that should be applied.  Telephone interviews as well as face to face interviews require different planning and strategy to cope with the unpredictability of this particular research method.  There is a difference however,  with my own research and that is because I want to conduct some of my interviews using Skype (the free, internet calling software).  Using Skype to interview creates a different environment in which to work, one can see the interviewee like in a face to face interview but the physical nature of being in a room with someone is replaced with a virtual window.

Cook (2009) discusses awkward moments in telephone interviewing as experienced by the interviewer for example where the interviewee does not answer the question.  This may be because the respondent cannot or will not answer but can also be just a natural pause as the responder thinks about the question.  Cook points out that after an interruption the interviewer and respondant may relate to each other differently.  In thinking about my own research methodology conducting interviews over Skype, any awkward pauses or silence  can hopefully be overcome through the visual nature of this long distance conversation.

Cook (2009) “It’s good to talk: performing and recording the telephone interview”, Area, volume 41, Issue 2, pages 176-185.

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