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.
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.
- 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.
- There is greater flexibility under this method as the opportunity to restructure questions is always there, especially in case of unstructured interviews.
- Observation methods can as well be applied to recording verbal answers to various questions.
- Personal information can as well be obtained easily under this method.
- Samples can be controlled more effectively as there arise no difficulty of the missing returns; non response generally remains very low.
- It is a very expensive method, especially when a large and widely spread geographical sample is taken.
- 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.
- This method is relatively more-time-consuming, especially when the sample is large and recalls upon the respondents are necessary.
- 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.