Role of Interview in Data Collection

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Role of ‘Interview’ in Data Collection. Merits and Demerits of Interview Method.

The interview method of collecting data involves the presentation of oral-verbal stimuli and reply in terms of oral-verbal responses. This method can be used through personal interviews and, if possible, through telephone interviews.

Personal interviews:

Personal interview method requires a person known as the interviewer asking questions generally in face-to-face contact with the other person or persons.

The method of collecting information through personal interviews is usually carried out in a structured way. As such we call the interviews structured interviews.

Such interviews involve the use of a set of predetermined questions and of highly standardized techniques of recording. Thus, the interviewer in a structured interview follows a rigid procedure laid down, asking questions in a form and order prescribed.

As against it, the unstructured interviews are characterised by the flexibility of approach to questioning. Unstructured interviews do not follow a system of pre-determined questions and standardized techniques of recording information.


  1. Interviewer by his own skill can overcome the resistance, if any, of the respondents; the interview method can be made to yield an almost perfect sample of the general population.
  2. There is greater flexibility under this method as the opportunity to restructure questions is always there, especially in case of unstructured interviews.
  3. Observation methods can as well be applied to recording verbal answers to various questions.
  4. Personal information can as well be obtained easily under this method.
  5. Samples can be controlled more effectively as there arise no difficulty of the missing returns; non response generally remains very low.


  1. It is a very expensive method, especially when a large and widely spread geographical sample is taken.
  2. There remains the possibility of the bias of the interviewer as well as that of the respondent; there also remains the headache of supervision and control of interviewers.
  3. This method is relatively more-time-consuming, especially when the sample is large and recalls upon the respondents are necessary.
  4. The presence of the interview on the spot may over-stimulate the respondent, sometimes even to the extent that he may give imaginary information just to make the interview interesting.


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