Preparing Questions For a Qualitative Research Interview

Getting ready to conduct a qualitative research Interview? Here are some tips to help you prepare the questions:

Decide What Information You Need

Think of Patton’s 6 types of questions related to: 1. Behavior or experience. 2. Opinion or belief. 3. Feelings. 4. Knowledge. 5. Sensory. 6. Background or demographic. Based on this list, write down the information you’d like to collect through the interview. Now frame your interview questions around this information. Also think of the possible answers you might get and prepare follow-up questions to ask.


Do Background Research on the Interviewee

A little research on the history and experiences of the person you’re going to interview can go a long way in helping you frame the right questions and predicting the answers you’d get. Look up the person on Google, check where they’ve lived and worked, find out about their interests and activities, books they may have written, etc.


Use Open-ended Questions For Collecting General Information

If you want to collect descriptions, histories or general information, avoid using ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. Instead, use open-ended questions that give the interviewee freedom to express their thoughts. Some examples of an open-ended question are: “How do you feel about this situation?” “What do you mean by [topic]?” “Tell me more about your relationship with your peers”.


Use Pointed Questions for Collecting Facts

If you want to collect facts or opinions, use more direct questions like “I would love to know your analysis of [topic]” or “In which year did that happen?”. If possible, let the interviewee know in advance that you would be asking these questions so that they can keep the requested information handy.


Keep the Wording Neutral

Word the questions so that they don’t influence the answer or sound judgmental such as “Don’t you think…” or “I think that may not have been the best approach for them to take, what do you think?”


Leave Room for a General Question in the End

The last question should allow the interviewee to share any thoughts or opinions that they might want to share, such as “Thank you for all that valuable information, is there anything else you’d like to add before we end?”

Carry your list of questions to the interview and use them for reference as the interview proceeds but don’t share the list with the interviewee because that would make the interview too formal. You may have to digress from the list from time to time when a new idea or question comes to your mind but always return to the list to make sure you gather all the necessary information.

Oh and don’t forget to carry a good voice recorder!

Verbatim Transcription for Doctoral Students


  1. hlabishi
      April 8, 2015

    I found the information valuable. It will assist me a lot with my research work.

  2. Harpinder
      June 8, 2015

    I am going for my pilot study. Above information is really valuable for me. Thank you.

  3. jessy
      September 28, 2015

    thank you for Patton’s 6 types of questions related to: 1. Behavior or experience. 2. Opinion or belief. 3. Feelings. 4. Knowledge. 5. Sensory. 6. Background or demographic. Really helpful

      October 7, 2015

    Very interesting and good guides, thanks a lot

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