Difficult interview participants and possible solutions

1. Participants are willing just to give monosyllabic answer, “yes”, “no”, “maybe”. Formulate questions as open as possible or use long pauses in silence to let them know you want hear more.

2. Participant become upset or start to cry. Explain that the question does not have to be answered. Avoid finalize the interview in this precise moment and just move on a different topic. It could make him/her feel guilty and cause greater damage.

3. They provide long answer and digress from the guide. Impose your direction discretly, without cause offence. For example, refering back to an earlier relevant point.

4. Participants starts interviewing you. You need to stress that you are interested in their opinion and that yours maybe provided at the end.


Lewis, Philip, Mark NK Saunders, and Adrian Thornhill. Research methods for business students. Pearson, 2009.