A Guide to Qualitative Research Interview Questions

Not everything can be answered by doing a survey or…

Not everything can be answered by doing a survey or quantitative research. A qualitative research interview is more appropriate if your research aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the underlying factor and causes of something. This guide presents some examples of qualitative research questions for interviews to better grasp a topic.

What Is a Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research traditionally uses interviews, focus groups, personal diaries, and memories of events to record people’s perspectives of a phenomenon. People are asked to share their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and experiences with a research study.

Moreover, qualitative research can be used to analyze the lives of individuals, groups, and even populations. But more often, it is used to analyze behavior.

What Is a Qualitative Research Interview?

Qualitative research interviews are used to close a gap in what we know about a specific issue. It also explores issues from different perspectives to understand how people interpret a situation.

The process of conducting these interviews is less focused on quantifiable data and more focused on in-depth dialogue about the issue being researched. A qualitative research interview is typically conducted in person with one individual and can last between one and four hours.

A man writing on a paper placed over a wooden table
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Tips & Examples of Qualitative Research Questions for Interviews

The questions you ask during an interview can significantly affect the quality of the data the interviewer will gather. Careful consideration must be given to the questions asked during the interview and the wording used. You can maximize the quality of the interview data only by factoring in these specific aspects.

Qualitative research interview questions are structured in a way that helps the interviewer and participant understand the topic at hand. Here are some tips with examples to write good qualitative research interview questions.

Avoid Asking Leading Questions

If the overall goal of your qualitative research is to uncover new insights, you should avoid leading questions. Instead, take an open-ended approach that allows interviewees to reply in their own words.

Leading: Why do you prefer to use our service?

Open-ended: How do you feel about using our product?

Keep a Mixture of Behavioral & Attitudinal Questions

People frequently have beliefs that contradict the way they behave. Combining attitudinal and behavioral questions will help you learn what a person does and their thoughts on their actions.

To better grasp their beliefs and motives, ask them attitude-based questions. Behavioral questions are used to learn more about a participant’s behavior.

Attitudinal: How often do you go shopping?

Behavioral: How many times did you go shopping last week?

Avoid Asking Double-Barreled Questions

Interviewers sometimes want to ask several questions at once and end up asking double-barreled questions. These types of questions cover multiple topics at a time. Respondents can find it overwhelming as they try to answer both questions and often only answer a portion of them. Splitting your questions into two parts is preferable if you need to cover multiple topics.

Double-Barreled: How satisfied are you with our product quality and packaging?

Avoiding Double-barreled:

  • How satisfied are you with our product quality?
  • What do you think about our product packaging?

Ask Open-Ended Questions Instead of Closed Ones

Closed questions lend themselves to a one-time response. Instead, ask open questions which elicit a more expansive response.

Ask open-ended questions to learn about people’s interests, goals, and pain points. They provide the participant a chance to express themselves freely.

Closed Question: Do you like reading fictional books?

Open-Ended Question: What are your thoughts on fictional books?


Qualitative research is where you can find out what is happening in a person’s life, and they give you their thoughts and feelings. Rather than observing people, qualitative research is done with people themselves.

Qualitative research is helpful in various contexts, such as academic research, business intelligence, education, and advertising. This article provides you with some tips and examples of qualitative research questions for interviews.

Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of interview in research?

Interviews have the greatest impact on qualitative research: They help explain, better understand, and explore research subjects’ opinions, behavior, experiences, phenomena, etc. In most cases, interview questions are open-ended so that in-depth information can be collected.

What are good qualitative interview questions?

  • How do participants and collaborators differ in what way?
  • What are your best options for suitable projects?
  • Would you do it if someone didn’t appear to be willing to participate in your research?
  • Do you have any ideas regarding the utility of qualitative research?

What is interview guide in qualitative research?

The interview guide is merely a list of the high level topics that you intend to cover during the interview along with the high-level questions that you want to answer under each topic.

Why is it helpful to prepare an interview guide?

Why is it helpful to prepare a sample interview guide prior to conducting semi-structured interviews? a) To keep data from different interviewees comparable and relevant to your research questions.

What are the components of an interview guide?

An interview guide should include sections on the candidate invitation, setting the stage, welcoming the candidate, the questions to be asked, candidate questions, the end of the interview, and candidate scoring.

What is the difference between interview guide and questionnaire?

Basis for ComparisonQuestionnaireInterview
QuestionsClosed EndedOpen Ended
Information providedFactualAnalytical

How do you make an interview guide for qualitative research?

  • Pose open questions instead of closed ones.
  • Interview questions for the following groups vary.
  • Avoid including possible responses in questions.
  • Question one question at a time.
  • Try not to ask multiple-part questions.

How do you formulate a research question in an interview?

Start by asking a neutral question to facilitate effective information flow. Answers should be open-ended so that the respondent can choose their own. To avoid confusion, limit the content of each question with one idea. To reduce questions that respond with a yes or a no response, the information they provide is less.

What are the 5 parts of an interview protocol?

  • You can begin by answering questions that are easier to answer, then move to more complex or abstract questions.
  • Start with basics
  • In order to open and close an interview, write a script.
  • Do not be a victim of new research that you have already conducted.
  • Create open-ended questions
  • Collect informed consent

What are some good qualitative research questions?

  • What are the experiences of health care workers working night shifts?
  • In a rural setting, how does it feel to grow up in a single-parent family?
  • If overweight people are eating, how would they describe their meal times?

How many questions are asked in a qualitative interview?

Creswell, W. & Creswell, D. There should be between 5 and 10 questions per year (2019).

What is the purpose of interview?

In the interview, you and your employer exchange information. Your objective should be to get an offer of a job, and the employer’s goal should be: What you have to offer (your abilities, skills, knowledge). You can become who you are (your personality, character, interests).

A Guide to Qualitative Research Interview Questions

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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