How to do a good interview?

The 5 step method: from planning to conduct the interview.

Step 1: planning

  • Determine how much time you need per interview;
  • Determine how much time you need to do all the interviews;
  • Decide when the interviews will take place;
  • Decide when the data entry will take place and for how many days.

Step 2: interview materials

Arrange for a proper translation of the questionnaire in local languages, if needed. Make sure that you have received the list with participant’s code and that you know your organisation’s code. Depending on how the interview will be done, collect:

  • Pen and paper: make sure that you bring enough prints and pens;
  • Smartphone or Tablet: make sure that the smartphone/tablet is charged and follow the instructions on your smartphone/tablet;
  • Online: test your internet connection and the link to the questionnaire.

Step 3: understand the questionnaire

Thoroughly go through the questionnaire and the explanatory text for each question. Ask yourself the questions that participants might ask. Be prepared to give clarifying examples in case the respondent is not familiar with a concept.

Step 4: create basic conditions

  • Interview the respondent in private;
  • Ask the questions in their proper order. The questions are related to each other and are ordered to increase consistency;
  • Follow up on your questions – for example the question on “school enrolment” and if you don’t have a clear understanding of the response, ask the question more specifically: “How many of your 3 daughters of school going age are attending school?”;
  • If the questions need clarification, do so in a consistent manner. Give the same explanation for all questions to all respondents. It will reduce the possibility of biased responses;
  • Make sure that the respondent feels comfortable. Do not hurry the interview and avoid stress;
  • Do not raise expectations about the organisation you are working for. You are there to do the interview;
  • The better the relationship between the respondent and the interviewer, the more reliable the answers of the respondent will be;
  • Emphasize to the respondent that it is important for the organization that they provide this information and that only an honest answer will help. Judge yourself if the answer is reliable and in case of doubt, try to ask again emphasizing that neither a too positive nor a too negative answer will help the organization planning its activities.

Step 5: start the interview

Write down your name, the date, the participant code and any other data required in the top box of the questionnaire. The participant code can be found on a separate list which should be provided by your organisation.

“Hello, I am [your name], I am working for [name of the organisation you are working for]. I am here to interview you: my organisation takes part in a survey from Oxfam Novib whereby ngo’s are researching the changes in the lives of people living in poverty and inequality over a longer period of time. Do you want to participate in this survey? The survey consists of a number questions about sustainable livelihoods, social welfare, human security, social and political participation and gender and empowerment.

We will interview [amount of people] who are taking part in the [refer to your project]. All data together will give us the opportunity to learn more about [your target group] in general and about the impact of the work of the NGO’s over a longer period. Based on this information, we will be able to improve our programmes.

The research is for scientific purposes only. It is completely confidential and anonymous .Your name will not be listed on the form. Your answers will not influence any decisions on your participation in the project you are part of.

The questions are about your opinion. There are no right or wrong answers. it is important for the organization that you provide this information and only an honest answer will help the organization planning its activities ”

Good luck!