Interviews pros and cons

by Oct 27, 2022

In this blog entry, the advantages and limitations of using interview as a research method will be discussed. In what situations is it recommended to use interviews and when would it be better to consider other methods to gather data, such as a questionnaire?

When is it useful to conduct interviews?

Because organising and conducting of interviews costs a large amount of time, it would be most useful to use interviews as a research method when dealing with a small number of people. In such a case, the time spent preparing for the interviews and conducting them will not be so long. It is also worth considering if the people you are looking for are accessible. When planning interviews, if it is difficult to reach people, you might need to consider other research methods such as questionnaires.

Regarding questions, if you have a large number of open questions and longer and more detailed answers are needed, then an interview is suitable way to collect material. In that way you will get all the information you need seeing as you are able to ask more questions if necessary. One of the benefits of interviewing is that you will get a 100 per cent response rate and the information you receive will be more exhaustive and thorough. Such information might also be sensitive, in which case trust is necessary and an interview is an excellent choice for gathering material. Interviews are convenient, too, if your research aims demand insight and understanding instead of a large amount of anonymous data. 

When should you consider other methods?

If your target group consists of a large number of people, it is not useful to organise interviews, considering the effort and time it takes to organise and plan them, not to mention the work required when transcribing and analysing them. Furthermore, if the people you are looking for are widely spread, conducting interviews might become problematic as you might have to travel or translate the material.

Additionally, other means of gathering information, such as a questionnaire, might be more suitable if the questions are closed and factual by nature. If what you are looking for is simple, brief and nonspecific answers, interviewing people might also not be your best option since it will limit the number of people giving you the information. Moreover, if anonymity is required, interview is not a great decision as it is much easier to gather anonymous information if you really do not know who exactly the data is coming from.

In short



Small number of accessible people

Large number of people

Open questions, sensitive material, anonymity not essential

Closed questions, factual answers, non-sensitive material, anonymity important

Depth and understanding central to your research aims, 100% response rate required

Breadth and representativeness important for the data



  • Bill Gillham (2001). Research Interview. Bloomsbury publishing.