Hi, I’m Siri Scott, and I work as a Graduate Assistant with the University of Minnesota Extension.
Conducting interviews with youth is one way to consider gathering information for program improvement, especially when you want to bring youth voice into your improvement process. While more time intensive than doing a survey, interviews will provide you with rich contextual information. Below is a brief overview of the planning process as well as tips for conducting interviews.
Hot Tips: Planning Phase
One main decision is whether or not you will need IRB approval for conducting interviews. Even when done for program improvement purposes, it is a good idea to comply with IRB regulations for data practices and protection for youth. Other major decision points in the planning process include how many individuals you will interview, how you will choose your participants, and how you will collect and analyze your data. In addition, you must decide what type of interview you want to conduct, the purpose of the interview, and then create an interview protocol (if appropriate).
Hot Tips: Conducting interviews
Here are some tips for conducting interviews:
- Practice: Test the use of the protocol with a colleague (or a young person who you know well) and ask for feedback about the questions themselves and how they fit together.
- Space: Find a quiet, secluded space for the interview in a public setting (or in a private home if the young person’s guardian can be present). You don’t want other people overhearing your conversation or your participant being distracted by anything.
- Warm up: Start the interview with some informal chit chat. This will build your rapport with the participant and ease the participant’s (and your) nerves.
- Probe: If you are not doing a structured interview, make sure to ask participants to clarify or elaborate on their responses. This will provide you with much better data.
- Notes: If you are using an audio recorder, don’t trust it (fully). Jot down some quick notes during the interview. You can elaborate on these later if the audio recorder malfunctions.
- Relax! If you mess up, that’s okay. Also, if you’re nervous and tense, the participant will sense that. Do whatever you can to put the participant (and yourself) at ease.
- Learn More: A good resource for learning about how to conduct interviews is this newly released, comprehensive overview of the interviewing process: InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing (3rd Edition) by Brinkman and Kvale (2014).
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