What Makes a Good Interview


Characteristics of a Good Qualitative Interview

There are three primary characteristics of an excellent qualitative interview: a trusting relationship between the interviewer and interviewee, skillful questions, and active listening. Foremost, we look at the relationship between the interviewer and interviewee. An interviewer has to plan for the session. Preparation involves furnishing the interviewee with the theme or subject to be handled during the interview and an explanation of how much the interviewee’s knowledge and skill set will be necessary to develop the subject (Laureate Education, 2016) further. The interviewer also needs to have a welcoming physical environment and be courteous enough to allow the interviewee to settle for the interview. An interview calls for professionalism from both parties, and the interviewer can initiate this by skillfully asking their questions. A useful approach is the use of open questions that allow the interviewee to address the issue as per their understanding of the subject. Finally, qualitative interviews are the product of active listening. By listening carefully, the interviewer avoids repetition, seeks clarification and engages the interviewee in a more professional way (Rubin & Rubin, 2012).

The quality of questions and the scope of the topic to be addressed by the interview is determined beforehand using an interview guide. Active listening helps the interviewer to follow through their interview guide. A useful interview guide helps the interviewer to know what to ask the interviewee, the sequence of their questions, and how to pose their questions and follow-ups (Yob & Brewer, n.d.). It also helps the interviewer to separate research questions from interview questions. Interview guides help interviewers to approach their questions that will help them get the most out of their interviewees regarding the quality of response. They also help to make interviews social events which they need to be.


Laureate Education (Producer). (2016). Doctoral research: Interviewing techniques, part two [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2012). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Yob, I., & Brewer, P. (n.d.). Working toward the common good: An online university’s perspectives on social change, 1-25.