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Structured Interviews in Sociological Research: Advantages and Disadvantages

  • 11 Pages
  • Published On: 13-10-2023


The structured interview, in its simplest form, has the involvement of the interviewer asking the respondents a list of questions that are predetermined about a topic which is carefully selected. The interviewer or the person who asks the questions has been allowed in explaining things the respondent or the interviewee finds confusing or does not understand (Weisner and Cronshaw 1988).

Advantages of Structured Interviews in Sociological Research

The fact that the structured interviews are comprises of mostly standardized questions, results in increase of efficiency and simplicity in the process. All the respondents, in that case, respond to same type of questions. This makes it easier for the comparison between each respondent in relation with the trends (Howard and Ferris 1996). The possibility of the repetition of the structured interviews all the time makes it possible to check its reliability. However, the fact remains that often the data is reliable or great. The problem, nonetheless, can be solved as with the structured interviews, the data can be checked and repeated with this method (Howard and Ferris 1996). The structured interview in the sociological researches is endowed with the scope of expanding the line of questioning. It is possible for the respondent in giving a much detailed and better responses to the researcher (Howard and Ferris 1996). It is manageable for the structured interviews in providing a much more comprehensive and better view with regards to the entire issue. It is an eye opener for the people having difficulty of understanding the subject and is very beneficial to them. Unlike the unstructured interview, it is always less difficult in reading well such situations (Kohn and Dipboye 1998). If the interviewer is trained, the rephrasing of the question is possible with altering the tone or the manner so as to suiting the ones that are interviewed (Kohn and Dipboye 1998). The reliability of the structured interviews in sociological researches is very high as it is easy in analyzing and evaluating the results and if required, the results can be replicated. Over and above, it is a quick process with the generation of more details amount (Kohn and Dipboye 1998). The respondent’s level of understanding, for a specific sociological research, can be understood. The benefits of this type of interview, in this context, are more depth attached to it (Howard and Ferris 1996). The structured interview is regarded as one of the formative assessment’s authoritative form. If this method is followed, the thought and the idea of the responder can be obtained prior to going for second methodology. The addition of gathering information is carried out in this method for them. There is also benefit attached with this kind of interview for the people having flare for detailed sociological research (Howard and Ferris 1996). In the structured process of interview, the researcher can present and prove their experience and skills for the job. In this process, it is possible for the researcher to know all professional details and the initial needed to know. This kind of interview has the coverage of wide area of topic and has been cost effective compared to the semi-structured interview. The answers are tick box style which makes it unessential for the interviewees to be requiring extreme training (Kohn and Dipboye 1998).


Disadvantages of Structured Interviews in Sociological Research

The structured interview in the sociological research is characterized by both the researcher and the respondents tending to be disappointed in the light of the rigidity seen in the formal interviews. The interviewing of the respondents indicates that interviewer must have the understanding of personality of the persons, their general demeanor, and their willingness to respond. However, considering the structure and the emphasis to keep focus in their interview, there can be very little room in building meaningful rapport between the interviewer and the respondent (Kohn and Dipboye 1998). If the sample group is very large, the process can be very time consuming. This is due to the fact that there is need for the researcher and their representative to have their presence in the time of the structured interview’s delivery (Kohn and Dipboye 1998). The usefulness and the quality of the information depend to a large extent on the quality of questions asked to the respondent. It is not possible for interviewer in adding or subtracting questions (Kohn and Dipboye 1998). The considerable amount of preplanning is necessary in the methodology of the research. The questionnaire format and designing of it creates difficulty for the researcher in examining the complex opinions and issues. Even at the time of the usage of the open ended questions, the provision of the depth of the answers tends to be more limited compared to the other methods used (Morrow 1990). The respondents are presented with limited scope in answering questions in depth or in any details (Morrow 1990).

There can be biases in the responses of the respondents. This can happen due to the presence of the researcher. For example, if the interviewer is aggressive, he may be intimidating the respondents to give answers that may not be reflecting the beliefs of the respondents. This is called the interview effect (Maddux 1994). The list of questions designed by the researcher has in advance decided effectively the collection of data that the researcher considered to be important or unimportant (Maddux 1994).

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The structured interview method in sociological research is generally quite reliable. For example, the interview is easily repeatable. However, this is dependent in the composition and the nature of the used sample. However, the validity sometimes is low, as getting depth of the information is difficult as scope is not much for the interviewer of asking complex and highly detailed questions. There is restriction on the respondents as well in terms their answers they can provide.


  • Howard, J. L. and Ferris, G. R. (1996) ‘The employment interview context: Social and situational influences on interviewer decisions’, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26 (2), 112–136.
  • Kohn, L. S. and Dipboye, R. L. (1998) ‘The effects of interview structure on recruiting outcomes’, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28, 821-843.
  • Maddux, R. B. (1994) Quality Interviewing: A Step-by-Step Action Plan for Success, Menlo Park, California: Crisp Publications.
  • Morrow, P. C. (1990) ‘Physical attractiveness and selection decision making’, Journal of Management, 16, 45-60.
  • Weisner, W. H. and Cronshaw, S. F. (1988) ‘A meta-analytic investigation of the impact of interview format and degree of structure on the validity of the employment interview’, Journal of Occupational Psychology, 61, 275-290.

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