Chapter 11: Quantitative Interview Techniques & Considerations

11.3 Strengths and Weaknesses of Quantitative Interviews

Quantitative interviews offer several benefits. The strengths and weakness of quantitative interviews tend to be couched in comparisons to those of administering hard copy questionnaires. For example, response rates tend to be higher with interviews than with mailed questionnaires (Babbie, 2010). Quantitative interviews can also help reduce respondent confusion. If a respondent is unsure about the meaning of a question or answer option on a questionnaire, he or she probably will not have the opportunity to get clarification from the researcher. An interview, on the other hand, gives the researcher an opportunity to clarify or explain any items that may be confusing.

As with every method of data collection we have discussed, there are also drawbacks to conducting quantitative interviews. Perhaps the largest, and of most concern to quantitative researchers, is interviewer effect. While questions on hard copy questionnaires may create an impression based on the way they are presented, having a person administer questions introduces many additional variables that might influence a respondent. However, the interviewer’s best efforts to be as consistent as possible with quantitative data collection are key. Interviewing respondents is also much more time consuming and expensive than mailing questionnaires. Consequently, quantitative researchers may opt for written questionnaires over interviews on the grounds that they will be able to reach a large sample at a much lower cost than were they to interact personally with each and every respondent.