Developing Semi-Structured Interview Questions: A Deductive Approach

A deductive approachDeveloping Semi-Structured Interview Questions: A deductive approach is a series of four video blogs focusing on the points a researcher should consider when embarking on such a task. This third video blog explains how to develop a set of questions using a deductive approach. The first video explains the differences between academic and commercial research. The second video blog explains how you can calculate the time it will take to do the semi-structured interviewing and the final video blog explains how to develop a set of questions using an inductive approach.

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You need to have a set of research aims/objectives. These objectives/questions must be addressed during the semi-structured questioning process. Say, for example, you wanted to find out why an individual elected to enrol on a marketing degree a Leeds Beckett University using Ajzen (1985) theory of planned behaviour as your theoretical framework. It is also worth noting that your sample frame will include individuals studying marketing at Leeds Beckett University and students studying marketing at other universities: this may help identify why some people choose not to attend.

  • Attitude
  • Subjective Norms
  • Perceived Behavioural Control
  • Intention
  • Behaviour                       

I would start with the actual behaviour and the question could be “Did you enrol on a marketing course at Leeds Beckett University?” Your sample frame should have participants who enrolled on a marketing degree at Leeds Beckett and other universities.

Attitude: What were your thoughts and feelings of Leeds Beckett University when you applied for the course you are now attending?

Subjective Norms: What were your family and friends, thoughts and feelings of Leeds Beckett University when you applied for the course you are now attending?

Perceived Behavioural Control: When you started the process of applying for university places were you aware of Leeds Beckett and what they had to offer?

Intention: You are now studying at XXX, was this your first choice or did you change your mind?

In between each of these questions you should think of further questions to gain a deeper understanding of what has happened.  The first question should take between 15 and 30 seconds to ask and gain an answer. The other four will take somewhere between 1 to 3 minutes to ask and gain an answer each. So this task will take somewhere between 4 minutes and 15 seconds to 12 minutes and 30 seconds to complete. Factor in the introduction and informed consent plus the summing up and you will spend up to 15 to 30 minutes on this task for each interview. Those interviews lasting about 15 minutes will yield very little, so you need to work on drilling deeper into the “why question”.

The final video blog in this section will focus on an inductive approach to developing semi-structured interview questions.

You can also find a free checklist e-book here.

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Dr Alan Shaw is a Senior Lecturer and Marketing consultant focusing on a range of sectors. His main interests are in strategy development, social marketing, digital marketing, advertising, consumer behaviour and marketing application.
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