Conducting Semi-structured Interviews

Share publication

Semi-structured interviews are a widely used technique in development research. Unlike formal interviews, which follow a rigid format of set questions, semi-structured interviews focus on specific themes but cover them in a conversational style. They are often the best way for learning about the motivations behind people’s choices and behaviour, their attitudes and beliefs, and the impacts on their lives of specific policies or events. And they often provide valuable information that wasn’t anticipated by the researcher. Whether you are interviewing a ministry official, a farm worker, or a head teacher, there are tips and techniques for getting the most from the conversation. This paper was written in 2012 and updated in 2019 by Martin Walsh.