The Interview and Sampling Process
Before conducting in-depth interviews, researchers must make a number of decisions, including how the people to be interviewed will be selected. Respondents for unstructured interviews are often chosen by "snowball sampling." In snowball sampling; the researcher interviews a few individuals who possess a certain characteristic; these interviewees are then asked to supply the names of others with the same characteristic. The process continues until the sample has "snowballed" into an acceptable size and no new information of any significance is being gained.
Researchers must make other key decisions. Will people be interviewed more than once? If so. how long will the interviews be] Are there a specific number and order of questions to be followed? Will the interviewees have an opportunity to question the interviewer? Where will the interview take place? How will information be recorded? Who should do the interviewing? Who should be present at the interview? (Reinharz, 1992; Kvale. 1996). Unstructured. open ended interviews do not mean that the researcher simply walks into a room. has a conversation with someone. and the research is complete. Planning and preparation are essential. Similarly. the follow-up. analysis of data. and write-up of the study must be carefully designed and carried out.