When it comes time to decid on a sampling method for your research, the methodology that will be most effective depends upon your topic, budget, and overall goal. One of the most prominent forms of data collection is the in-depth interview. Thanks to constantly evolving technology, which has brought new and different data collection methods to the research world, in-depth interviews can be completed online, in-person, or using a mixed method approach—but which is best? When making the decision between online and offline, there are several factors to consider:

Online

  • Easier to Schedule
    • Online interviews are typically more accessible for panelists and, therefore, easier to schedule. On the other hand, in-person interviews require a greater amount of logistical coordination and supervision. For example, interviews done in-person are often conducted by multiple interviewers in multiple locations. This method may cut-down on time to completion but it will inevitably raise the overall cost.
  • More Diverse Sample
    • Online interviews allow researchers to cast a wider net—selecting from a larger, more diverse population—during the recruitment phase. While this method can create a more representative sample for your study, it is important to note that—though online interviews are generally more accessible—they do exclude certain groups. For example, those who lack access to, or are unfamiliar with, the necessary technology.
  • Overall Cost
    • Another factor to consider is price. Generally, online interviews are cheaper to recruit and conduct due to incentive costs and time to completion. The convenience of online interviews allows for lower incentives costs. Additionally, as previously mentioned, recruiting a full panel of online interviews is typically a faster process than scheduling a full panel of in-person interviews.

As you can see, there are many advantages to conducting in-depth interviews online; however, in some ways, this technology will never replace the experience or capabilities of in-person interview.

In-Person

  • Creating a Connection
    • When using an online video service like Skype or Zoom, it can be more difficult for the researcher to connect and build rapport in a meaningful way. In this instance, it is important to utilize experienced interviews in order to collect authentic responses from panelists.
  • Reading Visual Ques
    • Additionally, online technology can interfere with a researcher’s ability to draw from the visual aspects of an interview. such as facial expression and body language.
  • Controlling the Environment
    • Finally, in-person interviews allow the researcher to control the interview environment. Performing interviews in-person will ensure that panelists are in a comfortable, quite setting where they will be free from distractions and able to focus their full attention on the tasks and questions you provide them.

As we’ve discussed, both online and in-person methods have their own set of pros and cons, so it is important to evaluate each for their ability to fulfill your research goals and provide you and your team with the information you need. The methodology you choose should be the one that best aligns with your research goals.

Working with experienced research professionals is the best way to ensure that your methodology will provide you high quality, reliable answers to all your research questions. Visit our website to learn more about how Discida can help your company make informed business decisions backed by science.