9.8 Methods: Face-to-Face

Conducting an interview in person is certainly the preferred method for communicators, whether they are interviewing for a news story or conducting focus groups.

One man interviewing another

adabara – Interview – CC0

Advantages of face-to-face interviews 

  • Picking up clues about the person, beyond what they say (tone of voice, body language)

  • Holding the interview in the interviewee’s “space” allows you to observe their environment, giving clues about the person and providing “color” for the story

  • Interviewee can be recorded

  • Longer, more complex question strategy can be used

  • Interviewee can respond to visual images or objects

  • Non-verbal responses to questions or displayed objects can be part of the information gathered

  • Interviews can be edited but still maintain the feel of a live interview

Disadvantages

  • Labor and transportation costs for the interviewers’ training and travel to and from the respondents’ locations can be high

  • Interviewees can be reluctant to allow strangers into their homes or offices

  • Interviewer’s appearance, age, race, sex, dress, or nonverbal behavior may affect respondents’ answers to survey questions.