What is a market research interview?

What does first spontaneously come to your mind when listen the word “interview”? May be a conversation between a journalist and a relevant personage on television? May be a job interview? Although an interview for market research may have many things in common with a job interview, there are a number of particularities to bear in mind. A market reserch interview is a purposeful discussion between two or more people (Kahn and Cannel, 1957) Bellow you can see what are the essentials of an interview.

1. Open-ended questions. Unlike in a questionnaire, the interviewee is not forced to choose among a set of options like bellow:

  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neither agree nor disagree
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly agree

On the contrary, the interviewee has absolute freedom to answer and does not need to stick to any preset categories. Actually, this is the essence and advantage of such technique, i.e. the possibility to obtain a spontaneous and non-conditioned answer. Some of examples are:

  • “Tell me about your relationship with your supervisor”
  • “How do you see your future?”
  • “What is the purpose of government?”
  • “Why did you choose that answer?”

3. Representation. When doing a research on trainers shoes consumptions, you must interview young people, adults and elder, or whatever other relevant categorization. It is going to assure a correct representation of the phenomena. Take into account that representation does not imply representativeness. When applying interviews in your research, the sample is usually low, 15 or 20 cases is enough. But these figures are insufficient to do inferences. On the contrary, other techniques like survey are precisely designed for reliable inferences.

4. Interaction. As well as other qualitative techniques as focus group, interaction is both the main advantage and handicap. On the one hand, the direct and close interaction interviewer-interviewee allows a deeper understanding. However, the way interviewer behaves may affect the answers. How do should behave? This question will be answer in future posts, but here is enough to say that a good interviewer must be neutral and refrain from giving his or her personal opinion.


Kahn, R. L., & Cannell, C. F. (1957). The dynamics of interviewing: theorie, technique, and cases. Cited in Philip, Mark NK Saunders, and Adrian Thornhill. Research methods for business students. Pearson, 2009
Martínez, P., & Rodríguez, P. M. (2008). Cualitativa-mente. ESIC Editorial.
VALLES, M. (2002). Entrevistas Cualitativas, CIS, Cuadernos Metodológicos nº 32S, Madrid. Trabajo personal de lectura y comprensión Trabajo personal para obtener informaciones de diversas fuentes Trabajo personal de análisis y síntesis.

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