Unstructured Interviews


90–120 minutes

What you need

Meeting space, audio recorder or smartphone

Unstructured, or in-depth, interviews are usually described as conversations held with a specific research purpose in mind. They lean more towards a normal conversation with an underlying subject.


  • Develop a real sense of a person’s understanding of a situation.
  • The opportunity to probe for a deeper understanding and ask for clarification.
  • Allow the interviewee to steer the direction of the interview.


  1. Be clear about your research purpose. Unstructured interviews don't usually have many prepared questions, so the research needs to guide the conversation so it does not move away from the main research goals.
  2. Prepare an interview guide. This might include some prompt questions or suggested probes. Avoid asking leading questions.
  3. Guide the interview. Change or modify your questions according to the interviewee's experiences.
  4. If you are going to transcribe the interviews, do so as soon as possible after the interview while the data is still fresh in your mind.