In-Depth Interviewing as a Compliment to Surveys

In general, survey interviewing and in-depth interviewing are thought to be approaches that are at odds with each other.  Surveys are presented as scientific because they rely on statistics and on reasonably large samples.  In-depth interviewing is said to be anecdotal, a term that implies a lack of science and suggests a reliance on information that can’t be verified.  The one is data and the other stories.

That, of course, is not the case.  The two can be used independently or, they can complement each other.  Think of the well set-up survey which produces conflicting results.  Think of the survey where participants don’t feel they can answer the questions or that the questions are not relevant to them.  Think of the times when the survey results are such that nuance is needed. 

All of these are times when talking to people matters.  They are the times when in-depth interviewing makes sense.   

  • In-depth interviewing can be used as a vehicle to explore discrepancies in results.  It can be used to find out what people think is important. 
  • It’s the tool that explores the ‘yes, but” answer and finds out what people aren’t able to express when they are completing a survey. 
  • And it is also the tool that can be used to validate survey results by making sure that people’s views are the same when they speak in person as they were when they filled out a survey. 

In-depth interviewing is a cost-effective complement to the survey itself.  Give me a call or send me an email and let’s talk about this.