What is an interview?

The most common aim of an interview is obtaining answers to questions of an individual participant [1]. An interview can range from highly structured, to semi-structured and completely structured.

What kind of results can interviews generate?

Within the contextual inquiry, interviews can be conducted with individual stakeholders, like possible users, experts or project managers. Interviews can have several goals, for example to uncover opinions, behaviour, causes of behaviour, to describe a problem, or to identify roles and tasks within a specific context [2]. The main difference with focus groups is that an interview focuses on the perspective of the individual. Some examples of the use of interviews during the contextual inquiry are:

  • conducting semi-structured, in-depth interviews to find out about knowledge on, experience with, and attitude and behaviour regarding ticks and Lyme disease [3]
  • questioning several kinds of stakeholders working in public health about their personal experience with social media and the context of public health [4].
  • conducting interviews with students, their parents and teachers to explore the problem of cyberbullying, by asking about views and understanding of cyberbullying, experiences, and attitudes [5].


[1] Dooley, D. (2001). Social Research Methods (4th Edition). New Jersey : Prentice-Hall.

[2] Velsen, L. van, Wentzel, J., & van Gemert-Pijnen, J.E. (2013). Designing eHealth that Matters via a Multidisciplinary Requirements Development Approach. JMIR Research Protocols, 2(1): e21.

[3] Velsen, L. van, Beaujean, D.J., Wentzel, J., van Steenbergen, J.E., & van Gemert-Pijnen, J.E. (2015). Developing requirements for a mobile app to support citizens in dealing with ticks and tick bites via end-user profiling. Health Informatics Journal, 21(1), 24-35.

[4] Hart, M., Stetten, N., & Castaneda, G. (2016). Considerations for public health organizations attempting to implement a social media presence: A qualitative study. JMIR Public Health Surveillance, 2(1): e6.

[5] Mishna, F., McInroy, L.B., Lacombe-Duncan, A., Bhole, P., van Wert, M., Schwan, K., . . . Johnston, D. (2016). Prevalence, motivations, and social, mental health and health consequences of cyberbullying among school-aged children and youth: Protocol of a longitudinal and multi-perspective mixed method study. JMIR Research Protocols, 5(2): e83.