Qualitative Interviewing

  • Sally NathanEmail author
  • Christy Newman
  • Kari Lancaster
Living reference work entry


Qualitative interviewing is a foundational method in qualitative research and is widely used in health research and the social sciences. Both qualitative semi-structured and in-depth unstructured interviews use verbal communication, mostly in face-to-face interactions, to collect data about the attitudes, beliefs, and experiences of participants. Interviews are an accessible, often affordable, and effective method to understand the socially situated world of research participants. The approach is typically informed by an interpretive framework where the data collected is not viewed as evidence of the truth or reality of a situation or experience but rather a context-bound subjective insight from the participants. The researcher needs to be open to new insights and to privilege the participant’s experience in data collection. The data from qualitative interviews is not generalizable, but its exploratory nature permits the collection of rich data which can answer questions about which little is already known. This chapter introduces the reader to qualitative interviewing, the range of traditions within which interviewing is utilized as a method, and highlights the advantages and some of the challenges and misconceptions in its application. The chapter also provides practical guidance on planning and conducting interview studies. Three case examples are presented to highlight the benefits and risks in the use of interviewing with different participants, providing situated insights as well as advice about how to go about learning to interview if you are a novice.


In-depth interviews Semi-structured interviews Qualitative interviewing Interview study design Interview methodology Interview method 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of MedicineUNSWSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Social Research in Health, Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesUNSWSydneyAustralia

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